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Baron happily surprised to be taken before 2nd round

Ferguson catcher Steven Baron figured his asking price was too high, that teams might not be willing to take a chance on him after his "average" senior season at the plate.

Steven Baron He found himself to be pleasantly surprised to say the least Tuesday night when the Seattle Mariners decided to spend the 33rd overall pick (and first pick in the compensatory round) on him.

"I'm still trembling," said Baron, who was watching the draft online from his parents' home in Kendall. "I was on the phone with my advisor and he said stay on the phone with me and watch the computer. All of a sudden I heard 'Steven Baron' and my heart skipped a beat."

Baron earned All-Dade First Team honors after leading the Falcons to the GMAC title. He hit .350 with two home runs and 16 RBI -- not as good as he wanted. But it didn't stop the Mariners, who he visited on his own last week for a workout, from being convinced Baron has a bright future.

"I'm so excited right now. It's unbelievable," Baron said. "This was totally unexpected. It's been such a crazy year. Everything is just so unbelievable. I had people hugging me, people knocking on the door. This is a moment I'll never forget."

Baron was all set to go to Duke before the draft began. Blue Devils coaches visited him Monday night and showed him a powerpoint presentation, geared to demonstrate the benefits of attending college instead of going to the minor leagues. They also bumped his scholarship up -- raising the offer from $40,000 a year to $50,000.

Baron (6-0, 190) may still choose to go to Duke (he has until August 15th to negotiate). But there's probably a better chance the Mariners will make an offer closer to Baron's $1.3-$1.4 million asking price and convince him to begin his professional career.

"It's been tough. I've had a lot of people tugging me both ways," Baron said. "But I got to do what's best for me."