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Two area players picked

David Holmberg will have to ditch his Chicago Cubs merchandise.

John Ryan "J.R." Murphy will have to get rid of his Boston Red Sox gear.

The two area players are going to their respective rivals.

The Chicago White Sox selected Holmberg, a left-handed pitcher out of Port Charlotte High, with the 71st overall selection in Tuesday night's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Five picks later, the New York Yankees took Murphy, a catcher from The IMG Academy School, with the 76th pick.

"I know they rival the team I have loved the past 15 years," said Holmberg, who grew up a Chicago Cubs fans.

"I can keep it for another week, or so," said Holmberg, who likely will forgo his scholarship at the University of Florida and sign with the White Sox as early as next week.

Murphy is a Red Sox rooter.

"He and his family are die-hard Red Sox fans," IMG Academy coach Kevin Sharp said. "Now, everything is going to be Yankees gear everywhere."

The 14th left-handed pitcher taken, Holmberg did not work out for the White Sox, which made the pick a surprise.

"We hadn't heard anything from them all day," said Port Charlotte coach Bob Bruglio, who thought Minnesota, St. Louis or the Cubs would select Holmberg in the second round.

"When I heard my name it was a big relief," said Holmberg, who worked out for St. Louis, Tampa Bay and the New York Mets. "I had gotten a few calls earlier in the day, but nothing serious."

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Holmberg went 7-0 with a 0.22 earned run average and 132 strikeouts and 23 walks in 642/3 innings for the Pirates this season.

New York Yankees director of scouting David Oppenheimer was in attendance at The IMG Academy School's first preseason baseball game.

He reminded Sharp of the fact a week later when a large throng of scouts began following Murphy.

When the Yankees' pick came up in the second round, Sharp had a feeling Murphy's name would be called.

"When the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels picks were up, we were just waiting to hear his name called," Sharp said.

A converted catcher prior to his senior year, the 5-11, 190-pound Murphy hit .629 with 11 home runs. His ability to make the transition to behind the plate made him an attractive selection.

The seventh catcher selected, Murphy worked out for the Yankees in Tampa three times, including as late as last week.

The Rays picked a high school player from Florida for the first time in their draft history, taking second baseman/center fielder LeVon Washington with the 30th overall selection.

The left-handed hitter attended Gainesville Buchholz High.

Washington hit .400 with seven home runs, 32 runs scored, 19 runs batted in and 14 stolen bases.

Committed to play at the University of Florida, Washington lived in Guam for three years and played for the Guam Little League All-Stars at age 12.

Nats select Strasburg with top pick in draft

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- Drafting pitcher Stephen Strasburg was the easy part for the Washington Nationals. Signing him could be much more difficult.

Strasburg was selected by the woeful Nationals with the first pick in baseball's amateur draft Tuesday night, a move that was long expected.

Considered one of the most talented prospects in the event's 45-year history, the right-hander features a blazing fastball that's been clocked at 102 mph -- and some nasty breaking stuff, too.

He went 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA this season for San Diego State, leading the Aztecs to their first postseason berth since 1991.

"He's a tremendous pitching package," Nationals acting general manager Mike Rizzo said.

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