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bartr@spokesman.com Central Valley pitcher Scott Simon went 10-1 for the Spokane Dodgers last summer. (J. Bart Rayniak)

Simon stands tall on mound for CV

Six-foot-8 right-hander dreams of big leagues

Just call him the Skinny Unit.

At some point, 6-foot-8, 208-pound Scott Simon, who wears a size-16 shoe, figures he’ll start to fill out. He’s just not sure when. He thinks he’s still growing.

The Central Valley senior pitcher/first baseman suffered a dislocated kneecap as a freshman. During surgery, his doctor noticed the growth plates in his knee were still about 3 or 4 inches apart. At the time he was about 6-0.

“I think I’m still growing, because my legs are always sore,” Simon said. “I’m hoping that it’s over so I can start filling out a little bit.”

Simon, who lived in Post Falls through eighth grade, isn’t sure why he’s so tall. His dad is 6-3 and his mom is 5-6, and there’s no significant size on either side of his family.

He wears No. 51. Before you think it’s a tribute to the Big Unit – 6-11 former Seattle Mariners left-handed pitcher Randy Johnson, who retired after winning five Cy Young awards – Simon happened upon the number by accident.

On the day they handed out uniforms his sophomore season, Simon was sick and wasn’t at school. Most of the numbers, including his favorite, 34 (worn by Nolan Ryan), had been chosen, and 51, a size double extra large, was about the only jersey left that would fit Simon.

It’s his ambition to someday put on a major league jersey. The icing on the cake would be if it’s with his favorite team, Boston.

“Obviously, that would be the ultimate dream,” Simon said. “But to play pro baseball, anywhere, that’s my dream. That’s all I dream about. All I want to do with my life is play baseball.”

Scouts have been attending his games since the end of last summer and much of the spring. He’s been personally contacted by scouts from 10 teams – the Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia, Seattle, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Minnesota, Florida, San Francisco and Baltimore.

He’s been told that he’ll be drafted. In what round remains to be seen.

Simon chooses not to talk to his teammates about what the scouts are saying to him.

“I don’t want to have a big head about it,” he said.

The most important thing to his father is his son has his college education paid for. He signed a letter of intent in November with Washington State University. He also was offered a scholarship by Gonzaga.

So it would take a knock-him-on-his-back offer for him to bypass college.

“It would have to be a substantial offer, life changing, for me to give up college baseball and my education,” Simon said.

WSU coach Donnie Marbut knows Simon is attracting attention from scouts.

“I will tell you this, that the best chance for him to pitch in the big leagues and to be successful is to go to college,” Marbut said. “I would say the same thing even if he wasn’t going to Washington State and was going to one of our competitors. The kids who pitch in the big leagues are high school first-round draft picks or college guys. I don’t see him being a high school first-round pick, but I see him being a college first-round pick. He’s going to be a big-time pitcher in the Pac-10. There’s so much upside in Scott if he works at it. His best baseball is way ahead of him.”

Simon caught Marbut’s attention last summer when he played for the Spokane Dodgers. Simon went 10-1, allowing just 27 hits and 18 walks in 74 innings while striking out 98. He had eight shutouts, nine complete games and a 0.30 ERA.

This spring he’s 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 11 walks in 21 innings. He was 3-4 last spring.

“He got roughed up a little bit last year,” CV coach Barry Poffenroth said. “I didn’t feel his ball was moving at all last year. Over the summer he made some adjustments and it was a definite change.”

Poffenroth figures Simon will be drafted, but is sure he won’t be offered more than “a cup of coffee and a road map. It would be more beneficial for him to go to WSU. He needs more time to physically mature. I wouldn’t say he would be lost in a major league farm system, but I don’t think he’s quite ready for that.”

Simon credits many people for helping him get to where he is today. Other than his coaches at CV (including former major leaguer Bump Wills), he praises Don Santos, whose son, Donnie, is a catcher at Lewis and Clark. Santos and Simon’s father coached a couple of youth teams together and Santos assisted with the Dodgers last summer.

“Don is like a second father to me,” Simon said. “He’s such a genuine guy. He’s always there for me.”

Simon is enjoying his final season at CV. The 4A Bears are tied with 3A Mt. Spokane atop the Greater Spokane League. The Bears hope to challenge for a state championship.

“This year our team chemistry is phenomenal,” Simon said. “We live and die for each other.”

In the middle of things is the Skinny Unit.