Yankees want him

Dan Somoza* calls himself a diehard Seattle Mariners fan, which always has been a pretty easy allegiance for him to carry.

Until Tuesday, that is.

“I guess I’m going to have to root for the Yankees,” the Edmonds-Woodway High School baseball coach said shortly after Warriors star Austin Jones was selected by the New York Yankees in the seventh round of the Major League Baseball draft.

For Somoza, it should be an easy transition — at least when Jones makes it to the big leagues. But for “Bubba” Jones, as Austin is known in the baseball community, a difficult decision awaits.

The University of Arizona signee now has to weigh whether to play college baseball or sign with the Yankees.

“I have no idea at this point,” Jones said by telephone Tuesday afternoon. “It’s all about the contract, and whatever the signing bonus is. It’s something I’ve got to think about.”

Jones can’t sign with an agent without forfeiting his college eligibility, and he has no pro bono advisor, which is a common practice among high draft picks. He’ll have to make the decision along with his parents, and he said the Yankees’ decision to take him so high will be a factor.

“If they’re willing to use a seventh-round pick, that shows how much they’ve invested in me and how much they like me,” said Jones, a first baseman who had a school-record .568 batting average and eight home runs during his senior season. “It definitely adds to it. I’ll take it into consideration.”

The Yankees, who he estimated had scouts at 10 E-W games and four practices, chose him with the 239th overall pick.

Jones was sitting in a drafting class at EWHS — “listening to the teacher,” he said — while monitoring the draft on his laptop. The Yankees made him the second high school player from this state selected in this year’s draft, after compensation-round pick Blake Snell of Shorewood High School.

“I looked (at the computer screen) and thought: ‘Oh, my god,'” Jones said of seeing his name on MLB.com’s draft list. “I kind of started to freak out a little bit. I left the room to call my mom, and, of course, I couldn’t get any service. I eventually found a place that got service and called her, but it was weird. It’s crazy.”

Jones has also followed the Mariners and said he’s become a bigger fan of late. But that doesn’t mean he’s a Yankee hater.

“I guess I love the Yankees now,” he said. “I can have two teams.”

Somoza, his coach, is just excited that Jones has a chance to play at the next level.

“I’m so happy for him,” Somaza said. “He’s worked so hard — on his fielding, on his swing. It’s just nice to see the hard work pay off.”

Jones was one of two players with Snohomish County ties drafted Tuesday. The Baltimore Orioles selected Washington State University outfielder Derek Jones, a graduate of Snohomish High School, in the 13th round.

Derek Jones hit .275 with eight home runs and 33 RBI as a junior this season. He ranks eighth on the Cougars’ all-time home run list with 32.

Also selected Tuesday was Shorewood High School first baseman Trevor Mitsui, who went to Tampa Bay in the 12th round.

*Correction, June 8, 2011: Dan Somoza’s last name was misspelled in the original story.

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