Padres select Conden in 18th round of draft

It took 18 rounds, but Greg Conden finally got the call he had been waiting for. The San Diego Padres selected the former GW pitcher Tuesday in the 18th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, sending him to Arizona to begin work in the team’s minor league system.

“I’m ready to go,” Conden said on his way to the airport Friday. “I’m anxious to start playing again soon.”

The last time Conden saw action on the field was in last month’s Atlantic 10 Tournament, where he finished his career as GW’s all-time leader in wins (35) and games started by a pitcher (62). In his final collegiate season, the right hander from Owego, N.Y. went 7-6 with a 3.77 ERA and was named the Colonials’ Most Valuable Player.

Senior pitcher Dennis Gramolini was Conden’s roommate at GW and remains one of his good friends.

“He called me five minutes after he got the call from the Padres,” Gramolini said. “He was hoping maybe to go a little higher in the draft, but hey, what can you do? He’s excited.”

As Conden begins the process of getting acquainted with the Padres’ system and meeting team representatives and other draft picks, GW head coach Tom Walter expressed confidence that his former ace can climb the minor league ladder.

“Greg has a great chance of moving up at the major league level,” he said.

Gramolini agreed, adding that Conden should have no trouble making friends or fitting in because of his outgoing personality. In addition, he said Conden will see some familiar faces in Arizona.

“Ten guys who we played with on Chatham in the Cape Cod League were drafted in the first 20 rounds,” he said. “And six of those guys were picked by the Padres.”

While he awaits assignment to either the Padres’ single-A affiliate, the Eugene Emeralds (Eugene, Ore.), or the rookie-league Idaho Falls Padres (Idaho Falls, Idaho), Conden will have to start getting used to the changes that come with the transition from college to professional baseball.

“It’s a little different now,” Conden said. “I’m used to my parents being at a lot of my games, but it’s still going to be a great experience for me to be on my own.”

Conden was the only member of the Colonials to be drafted this year, but he was not the only player with GW ties to be selected.

With the second overall pick in the draft, the Milwaukee Brewers selected Southern University A&M second baseman Rickie Weeks, who MLB.com called a “five tool player” comparable to the Atlanta Braves’ Gary Sheffield. Not highly recruited out of high school, Weeks was offered scholarships by only two schools – Southern A&M and GW.

“We’re now known as the other school who offered him a scholarship,” Walter said. “It’s crazy. No one could’ve predicted him to be at the level he is now. It’s been fun to watch him come along so fast.”

Walter also noted that former GW outfielder Chris Barry (’03), who was not drafted, may still have a future in the pros.

“Chris may not have been drafted, but he might sign as a free agent with some team,” Walter said. “He’s an organizational player, and I think he can play for at least a few years.”

Last year, four major league teams drafted six GW players. The Montreal Expos took seniors Mike O’Connor and Tony Brown, the Cincinnati Reds drafted seniors Mike Bassett and Matt Krimmel, the Milwaukee Brewers took senior Jason Baker and the San Francisco Giants drafted junior Jake Wald. Each of the players is currently at the single-A level in their respective organizations.

The only former Colonial in the major leagues is John Flaherty, who is now in his 12th MLB season playing back-up catcher for the New York Yankees.

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