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Lewis to test his options in draft

As a senior at Phoenix High, Jordan Lewis is used to taking tests.

But no math or history exam can compare to one test recently taken by the standout baseball player.

Lewis recently was convinced to make himself available for the 2008 Major League Baseball first-year player draft, but had no idea all the extra work that decision would bring to him and his family.

"It's pretty weird to just know that this is actually happening," says Lewis, "and all the stuff you have to go through."

The left-handed pitcher has been caught up in a series of paperwork and questionnaires since his family was approached a few weeks ago by Carl Moesche of the MLB scouting bureau. Moesche apparently had seen Lewis pitch a few times and suggested to his dad Brian Lewis that he might have what it takes to be drafted to the professional ranks in the June 5-6 event.

"It was a big shock to us, but it was a pretty neat experience to have someone say that about your son," says Brian Lewis.

Unlike more common professional drafts in football and basketball, high school graduates who have not yet attended college or junior college are eligible for the MLB draft.

But it's not like the 30 clubs simply pluck those up-and-coming standouts from their hometowns without a little background investigation.

Jordan Lewis can attest to that.

Once he decided to make himself available for the draft, he was provided page after page of paperwork to fill out. Most of it involved queries into his medical background, but then the whole ordeal got really interesting when Lewis was asked to take a 120-question Internet test provided by the MLB that subsequently gets sent out to all 30 teams.

"They had all kinds of questions, it was just incredible," says Brian Lewis. "I guess it makes sense because teams don't want to take a kid who'll be a cancer or anything, but it was pretty extensive. They really wanted to know your character and what kind of person you are."

Question after question, Jordan Lewis was asked to put himself in situations and supply his reaction. He was asked about whether he wanted all the fame or would be happy being a team player. He was even asked if, given the opportunity, would he steal toilet paper from work.

Many of the questions attempted to gauge his interest in going pro or, instead, attending college so teams could determine his potential signability.

That factor has come into play more and more these days after a change was made two years ago to provide a universal signing date. This is the second year that all draft picks must sign by Aug. 15 or they go back into the draft pool for a future draft, provided they meet eligibility requirements (four-year college players who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21, or junior college players regardless of how many years of school they have completed).

Lewis has already signed a letter of intent to play at Western Nevada Junior College next season, but such junior college commitments aren't binding. Such a player could still join a Division I team or go pro.

For Lewis, who will turn 18 on June 18, it's all about exploring his options and finding the right fit.

"I'm not looking for any top spot or anything like that in the draft," he says. "I'm going to see just kinda where I fit in and from there we'll make a decision. I'm not expecting to go anywhere high, I'm just happy to be a part of it."

Phoenix coach Joe Hagler says scouts were on hand for a handful of the Pirates' games this season, but he never let on when that was happening.

"I never tell the kids," Hagler says. "When I was a younger coach I did and the kids played the worst they ever played in those games. I stopped doing that because it just added more pressure to them."

Hagler says he also doesn't like to say anything because it generates a lot of attention that isn't really conducive to providing a team atmosphere, although other players often can benefit from such exposure.

"We've had a number of people looking at our kids this year because of Jordan and it's been a pretty good deal," says Hagler. "Take a guy like Neil Emerson. People came to see Jordan and saw a big upside right there in him even though there wasn't as much experience with him as somebody like Jordan."

Hagler says the right-handed pitcher has received interest from Oregon Tech and the University of Portland about him joining their baseball programs. Besides Lewis and Emerson, the Pirates have at least three others who expect to continue their baseball pursuits next year in Korey Locken (OIT), Ryan Robinson (Biola University) and Jake Murphy (undecided).

The last Phoenix player drafted out of high school was Knute Parent, who played catcher on the 1998 state championship team. Parent was taken in the 34th round of the 50-round draft by the Oakland A's but opted against testing the pro waters right out of the gate.

For his part, Lewis says he's spending his time these days preparing for the American Legion AAA season. In two summers with the Medford Mustangs, he has 20 wins with 152 strikeouts and a career 1.76 ERA. Lewis, who was 13-1 with a 1.70 ERA and 111 strikeouts last summer, has two years of eligibility left for the Mustangs and can conceivably become the record holder in wins (Bobby Wolcott had 27 from 1990-91) and strikeouts (Matt Skundrick had 263).

"There's a lot of baseball left, hopefully, in my life," says Lewis. "As long as I can just take care of myself, I'm looking to play baseball for a long time."

At this point, though, he's just not sure where.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com