Three from Roseville get calls on draft day

Knapp goes in Round 2 to Phillies; Rangers see Cordell as a center fielder; Kuresa is selected by Braves
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Ryan Cordell looks back now — and in the mirror — and appreciates the last three years of his baseball life.

“There was no way I was physically ready or mentally ready coming out of high school,” the 2010 Valley Christian Academy graduate said after being selected by the Texas Rangers in the 11th round of the Major League Baseball draft last weekend. “Three years of college is definitely a grind and hard work. You’re balancing schoolwork and college ball. I learned a lot about myself. I’m definitely more prepared to start pro ball now.”

Cordell was one of three area players selected in the draft. Cal catcher and Granite Bay graduate Andrew Knapp was chosen by the Philadelphia Phillies in the second round, and UC Santa Barbara first baseman and Oakmont graduate Tyler Kuresa was picked by the Atlanta Braves in the 14th round.

Cordell went to Liberty (Va.) University as a pitcher who went 10-2 with a 1.21 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 63 2/3 innings as a Valley Christian senior in 2010. But he also took with him a whopping .578 average and 14 home runs.

Cordell played left field as a freshman, “a little” first base as a sophomore and was the team’s center fielder this season. He said the Rangers see him as a center fielder. Cordell signed for $100,000 and said the Rangers would pay for the remainder of his schooling to complete his bachelor’s degree in business management.

Cordell added strength and speed to his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame using Liberty’s weight-training program, which included squats, lunges and more for his legs. That resulted in more explosiveness and speed. Cordell stole 28 bases this season for Liberty, which qualified for the NCAA Division I playoffs.

“In high school, you can rely on your athletic ability, but as you move up, especially Division I, it’s the little things,” he said. “A lot of guys are just as fast as me, but they weren’t able to steal as many bases. Stealing bases is an art. It’s quick first steps, not just about athleticism.”

Cordell is the third player from Valley Christian to be drafted under the watch of coach Brad Gunter Jr. Warren Rosebrock was chosen by the Rangers in the 41st round in 2005, and Ryan Shook was taken in the 46th round by the Chicago Cubs in 2006.

Cordell said it was tough to “see that far ahead in high school,” but Gunter used to tell Cordell he had a baseball future.

After hitting .261 with six home runs and 40 RBI in 65 games for Liberty, Cordell was due to leave Wednesday for Spokane, Wash., and another 75 games or so of short-season rookie league.

Said Cordell, “It’s going to be a grind, but yeah, I’m excited.”

Contact Bill Poindexter at Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.