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June 9, 2010
4:12 p.m.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The news that John Bivens was drafted Tuesday delighted his former teammates and coaches in the UVa baseball program.

The Milwaukee Brewers selected 6-1, 210-pound outfielder, who played for Division II Virginia State this season, in the 12th round of the major-league draft. Bivens was the 369th pick overall.

“I sent him a text message right when I saw it on the draft board,” UVa coach Brian O’Connor said this afternoon at Davenport Field.

“I am so happy for John Bivens. I’ve continued with my relationship with John. He was actually just in my office not too long ago, we spent about 30 minutes together, and I was hoping that somebody would give him an opportunity. He’s a wonderful kid.”

Bivens, 22, is a graduate of Prince George High, where as a senior he hit .530 and was named Central Region player of the year. He was also a football star for the Royals, and he accepted a full scholarship to play that sport at UVa.

He was projected to one day start at linebacker, but injuries derailed his college football career. In a span of about nine months in 2007, Bivens had two operations on his left knee, and he was never able to regain the form that had made such a tantalizing prospect.

In September 2008, with then-coach Al Groh’s blessing, Bivens left the football team and joined O’Connor’s program.

In 2009, he appeared in 18 games for the Wahoos and hit .438 (7 for 16). But on a team that advanced to the College World Series, Bivens did not play regularly. He also had to deal with a shoulder injury.

“He never really got healthy, and he was a couple years behind,” O’Connor said. “And when you have players already in the program that have been everyday players for a year or two, those are tough guys to unseat when you haven’t played.

“He ran into a numbers situation here, and it was a timing deal, so he did the best thing for his career in making a move.”

Bivens, who O’Connor believes has completed work on his bachelor’s degree at UVa, transferred to Virginia State last year. He batted .293 for the Trojans this spring, with five triples, five home runs and 33 RBI. He’s healthy for the first time in years and stole 16 bases (in 20 attempts) for VSU.

His former teammates are rooting for Bivens.

“He was one of the nicest guys I’ve been around,” UVa pitcher Robert Morey said this afternoon. “You’d never see him without a smile on his face. He had a lot of tools. He had a little speed, he had size, he had some power. It was just unfortunate he had to go through some of those injuries, but I’m so excited for him, that he gets another opportunity to play pro baseball.”

Jeff White

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