Nationals draft Folsom resident

By: Matt Long
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J.R. Higley knew he was going to get drafted, it was just a matter of by whom. Higley, a 19-year-old Folsom resident, who graduated from Jesuit in 2006, knew he was good enough to be chosen based not only his performance this season playing at Sacramento City College, but also because of the school itself. “Sac City has a good tradition of producing players and when you’re hitting in the three hole at Sac City, you’re going to be noticed,” Higley said. “My season went alright. The biggest thing was playing every day and starting every game. I hit .303 and drove the ball with 14 doubles and nine home runs. I was able to capitalize on my position at Sac City. “Now it’s just a matter of two sides coming to an agreement.” Higley’s road to the MLB draft wasn’t entirely smooth. He missed the 2007 season when he torn his patella tendon in his right knee. That made his first year at Sac City all that more important to him. “I didn’t realize how much the game meant to me until I came back this year,” Higley said. “It was great to get back on the field and play every game.” Higley had 50 hits in 165 at bats, driving in 43 runs. He walked 46 times against only 27 strikeouts. When he got the call informing him he was chosen in the ninth round, with the 271st pick overall by the Washington Nationals, he was thrilled. “I was really excited,” Higley said. “To be drafted is an honor and I’m very grateful to start a baseball career. It’s the first step in a long journey.” Higley will spend the summer playing for the Chatham A’s in the Cape Code Baseball League. The fact that he’s playing in the league is an honor itself. A player must be invited to play in the league and only the best make it. Two hundred twelve alumni of the league played in the major leagues last year and 222 players in the league a year ago were chosen in the 2007 draft. Higley and the Nationals have until Aug. 15 to come to a contract agreement. If the two sides can’t come to agreement, Higley will be back at Sac City for his sophomore year next spring.