Denfeld News

June 8, 2006
Duluth News Tribune

A's take Jukich in Round 13

Former Duluth Denfeld standout Ben Jukich was taken by the Oakland Athletics in Round 13 of the Major League Baseball draft Tuesday.

Jukich was sleeping when the selection was announced on the radio. His afternoon snooze didn't last long as a large contingent of friends and family members erupted, waking up the 6-foot-5, 190-pound left-handed pitcher.

"I woke up to a whole chorus of screams," Jukich said. "I didn't even know what had happened, and then Oakland called me. I don't even know what to say. Oh my gosh. I'm just thrilled."

Jukich, the 22nd pick in Round 13 and the 398th pick overall, can expect a signing bonus of around $50,000 based on previous drafts.

Jukich went 10-5 with a 1.90 ERA for Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D. He led the NAIA in strikeouts with 144 in 94 2/3 innings, including a Wesleyan record 17 in one game.

Opponents batted just .214 against the NAIA All-American, and he had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 9.6. Besides a fastball clocked as high as 92 mph, he has a slider, split-finger fastball and curveball.

Jukich plans on staying sharp by playing with the Rochester Honkers of the Northwoods League before checking in with one of Oakland's minor-league affiliates. He was still smarting after losing a pitching duel to former Superior standout Keith Ritsche in the Duluth Huskies' 2-1 victory over the Honkers on Saturday.

"This gets the bad taste out of my mouth from Saturday, no doubt about it," Jukich said. "I have a million people calling me. This is great."

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