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Draft '99 MISSOURI ***

1. Matt Cepicky, of, Southwest Missouri State U.
2. Jon Hale, c, Southwest Missouri State U.
3. Jesse Thrasher, rhp, Benton HS, St. Joseph's
4. Ryan Jamison, rhp, U. of Missouri
5. Mark Buehrle, lhp, Jefferson JC (CONTROL: White Sox)
6. Jose Pujols, 3b, Maplewoods JC

OF Matt Cepicky attracted scouts of all levels of power and influence to see him play this spring, and the beneficiaries were his teammates. As many as seven or eight Bears players should be drafted. But none will go higher than the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Cepicky, who raised his profile with an outstanding season in the Cape Cod League last summer. He continued his hot pace this spring. Cepicky has huge arms and hits balls a long way. He's a former high school third baseman still feeling his way along as an outfielder. He has rough edges. He doesn't get good jumps on fly balls, is somewhat stiff charging ground balls and has just an average left-field arm . . . Senior C Jon Hale has made one of the greatest turnarounds among college players. He wasn't drafted last year after hitting three home runs but had almost kept pace with Cepicky this year. His transformation as a hitter coincides with vast improvement behind the plate. Because of an erratic arm, Hale was primarily a DH his first two years in college. Through hard work he has greatly improved his arm, along with his receiving and blocking skills . . . Six-foot-3, 220-pound RHP Jesse Thrasher has risen to the head of Missouri's high school class. There was concern no one would step in to replace incumbent 3B Jose Pujols, who finished high school at Christmas and enrolled in junior college for the spring season. Thrasher throws an easy 87-91-mph fastball and maintains his velocity deep into games. He also projects an above-average curveball . . . Pujols established himself as the best high school talent in the state last summer before transferring. He has excellent power and is so versatile afield that he can play almost any position, though his tools seem best suited for third base. Offensively, he generates above-average bat speed and extension.

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