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Former Sonora pitcher drafted by Yankees

SONORA LEFTY Phillip Coke, shown during his senior year against Oakdale, is Yank material. (File photo/Copyright 2002, The Union Democrat).
SONORA LEFTY Phillip Coke, shown during his senior year against Oakdale, is Yank material. (File photo/Copyright 2002, The Union Democrat).


Over the last 72 hours, Phillip Coke has received a crash course in living life by one of baseball's oldest axioms

Have left arm that can throw a baseball 93 mph, will travel.

That's a lesson Coke, a 2001 Sonora High school graduate, is going to have to digest on the road, which is where he is right now, heading for the prestigious Alaska Baseball League (ABL) after being picked by the New York Yankees in 26th round of the Major League Baseball draft on Wednesday.

Not bad for a 19-year-old who just three days ago was a run-of-the-mill freshman middle reliever at San Joaquin Delta College of Stockton, wondering if he would get another shot at the bigs after the Florida Marlins, the team which first owned his professional rights, let his contract expire.

"I'm beside myself right now," Coke said Thursday afternoon from the offices of his father, Doug Coke's, Peace Of Mind Construction in East Sonora. He, Doug and his mother, Pamela Coke, were signing the necessary paperwork with Yankee scout Tim McIntosh that made Phillip official property of the 26-time World Series champions.

"It's an absolute honor that the Yankees would be looking at a small-town guy like myself," the new draftee said.

Although his second foray into the draft resulted in his being picked 23 rounds higher than he had been in 2001 (he was drafted in the 49th round by the Marlins last year), he is still one round out of the money as a draft-and-follow selection.

Amateurs chosen in the first 25 rounds are signed and designated to minor league teams ranging from the Rookie League all the way up to Triple-A. Players chosen in rounds 26 and later are designated draft-and-follow prospects — they are not compensated financially or sent to an affiliated minor league team and only the organization which has drafted that player has the right to negotiate with him during the term of the draft-and-follow contract.

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