Michigan sophomore pitcher Derek Feldkamp was on the road
heading home from Ann Arbor last Tuesday when his phone rang. On
the other end of the phone was a scout from the Toronto Blue Jays.
Derek had been taken in the 41st round of the Major League Baseball
First-Year Player Draft.

Michigan Baseball
Sophomore pitcher Derek Feldkamp was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the Major League Draft on Tuesday. Feldkamp will likely return to Michigan for his junior season. (MIKE HULSEBUS/Daily)

“It’s a dream come true to see your name up on the
draft board,” Feldkamp said. “It’s an exceptional
honor and it feels very gratifying.”

The 41st round is not a very accurate representation of
Feldkamp’s standing in the eyes of scouts. Because he was 21
at the time of the draft, he became a draft-eligible sophomore.
With two more chances at being drafted, Feldkamp’s likelihood
of signing with the Blue Jays becomes a question.

“(The Blue Jays) pretty much said we will see how this
process goes as far as the summer, and see what we (action) we will
take from there,” Feldkamp said. “If I do end up
signing a professional contract, (the team talked about) the hard
work and long hours of practice needed to give me a chance to rise
through the minor leagues and make it to the big leagues to play in
Toronto.”

At the beginning of his sophomore season, Feldkamp wasn’t
even considered a prospect. But after adding seven miles per hour
to his fastball, hitting as high as 95 mph and showing three solid
pitches, scouts began to take notice. Even more impressive was that
his rapid development took place in a season where he jumped from
the bullpen into a rotation, starting eight of his 19
appearances.

“To just have a chance to get drafted, and to know how
hard I had to work to prove myself,” Feldkamp said.
“Hopefully we can take that progress and turn it into a Big
Ten Championship at Michigan.”

Feldkamp credits his summer ball work last year for the drastic
improvement. He went 4-0 with a 2.57 ERA and a pair of saves in the
Florida Collegiate Instructional League. While down there, he began
a long-toss program to build arm strength and a more focused weight
lifting program.

“(Summer ball gave me) a chance to get some good old
fashioned hard work in,” Feldkamp said. “It really
helped translate into adding seven (mph) to my fastball. That
helped me have a chance to get drafted.”

He will again head down to Florida, this year he will be going
to the IMG Baseball Academy in Bradenton. According to Baseball
America, if he continues improving at a similar rate, he could find
himself as a second or third round pick in 2005.

Coming into last week’s draft, Feldkamp got a picture of
what he could expect from fellow pitcher and roommate Jim Brauer,
who had been drafted twice before.

“It’s nice to have a chance to talk to him, he
explained the process,” Feldkamp said. “He’s been
real helpful in the whole thing, the decision making and all that
good stuff.”

Brauer, a junior, joined Feldkamp as 2004 pick. Senior Brandon
Roberts, who also lives with Feldkamp and Roberts, was taken in the
draft as well.

“It’s kind of cool for everyone in the house to have
a chance to get drafted,” Feldkamp said.

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