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Denair grad blossoms into MLB Draft pick
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Back when he was at Denair High, Shawn Stuart's favorite place to show off his athleticism wasn't the baseball diamond. Instead, it was the basketball court. That's what his high school baseball coach, Ron Cornell, remembers of the now MLB First-Year Player Draft selection.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound right-handed pitcher went to the Texas Rangers, who chose Stuart as the 1,336th pick in the 44th round on Wednesday, the third and final day of the draft.

In all, 1,525 players were chosen.

At Denair, Cornell noticed Stuart's commitment was mostly dedicated to basketball, though Stuart was also a standout pitcher — thanks in part to having “the best slider I've ever seen in high school baseball,” Cornell said — for the Coyotes.

“I just remember baseball being more of a hobby for him,” Cornell said of Stuart's high school years. “Basketball was more of his passion in high school. That kind of shows you what kind of athlete he is. I think he's just scratching the surface. I think he can really improve.”

Stuart is the first player to be drafted under Cornell, who coached for 38 years before going into retirement last year. Stuart was named an all-Southern League honorable mention at the end of his senior season.

At Merced College, he matured into the Central Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2010.

“I'm very happy for him. He had the frame, he had the potential and Merced brought the best out of him,” Cornell said.

All of this year's draftees have until Aug. 15 to sign with the team that drafted them.

One other option is that they can choose to stay in school.

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.