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Vike alum prepares to join Tribe

Preston Guilmet drafted by the Cleveland Indians
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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A road that began on the Little League fields of Citrus Heights before running its way through the diamond at Oakmont High School and on to the University of Arizona took its next leap Wednesday when Preston Guilmet was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball draft. “Every kid thinks about it (playing professional baseball) when they’re young,” Guilmet said, “but it first clicked for me about midway through high school when I realized I could make a run at this. It continued from day one in college and this is just the next milestone.” Oakmont baseball coach Dean Perkins saw something in the right-handed pitcher early on, but it was about that same time when he realized this kid was special. “After his sophomore year (on the varsity), he started to do all of those extra things like running on his own, doing the plyometrics and weight training,” Perkins said. “He constantly did all of the right things for his body.” Guilmet just completed his senior year at Arizona, so the drama is taken out of any decisions about signing, but he was a little surprised that it was the Indians who called his name. “I had no expectations on where I would be picked,” Guilmet said. “I had talked to them (the Indians) a couple of times, but I had talked to other teams a lot more. I thought I would go between (round) five and 10, so I am happy with where I am.” After being unable to work out a deal with the Oakland A’s, who drafted him in the 22nd round after his junior campaign, the Wildcats’ four-year No. 1 starter returned to Tucson and made the most of his final year there. “We made some progress with the A’s on contract talks over last summer but it didn’t work out,” Guilmet said. “I had no problem going back to school and now I am just four classes away from my degree.” University of Arizona coach Andy Lopez agrees that his Friday night ace made the most of his final season. “I’m very happy for Preston,” Lopez said. “He epitomizes everything that is great about college baseball and certainly our program. His decision to return for his senior year was a tough one personally, but clearly it paid off for him moving up so high in the draft.” Guilmet joins former Wildcat teammate Eric Berger, who was one year ahead of him across town at Woodcreek in his high school days in a local reunion in the Indians organization. His former coaches are on the same page when it comes to discussing the character and work ethic that Guilmet will take to his new employer. “He always did things the right way here at Arizona, from his first day on campus all the way through his last game a couple weeks ago,” Lopez said. “This is a great opportunity for him and I wish him nothing but the best.” “He was the hardest working player we have ever had here at Oakmont,” Perkins said. “It is not even close. Any team that wants to have someone for their No. 1 pick to emulate in terms of working hard, he is the guy.” Guilmet has not had many discussions yet with the Indians about his role or exactly what happens next, but if success follows hard work, it is certain that he has big things in his baseball future. “I don’t say this about a whole lot of players,” Lopez said, “but I speak the truth when I say that more players should play the game and prepare for the game the way Preston does. He is a special player in that regard just like he is a special person on and off the field.”