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Pilots two veterans prepare to move on

The long road to maturity will end this weekend for the University of Portland baseball team and its two experienced players, outfielder Kory Casto and catcher Brock Griffin.

Casto, a junior, is leading the Pilots in hitting for a third straight year and expects to be drafted in the top 10 rounds when the Major League Baseball amateur player draft is held June 3-4.

He could return to the Pilots for one more year but feels certain he will be selected high enough to bid Portland farewell. The Pilots fielded a roster of 17 freshmen this season and enter their final three games at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles at 9-40-1.

'It's been a tough season, but I've had a great career here,' says Casto, who played prep baseball at North Marion High in Aurora. 'I got to play a lot as a freshman, and I got a lot bigger and stronger while I was here.'

Casto says he grew from 5-10, 165 pounds, to 6-1 and 192 pounds during his years on the Bluff. He is hitting .322 this season, the same percentage he batted as a sophomore. He batted .294 as a freshman. In three seasons, he's homered 27 times.

UP coach Chris Sperry can see Casto as a left fielder with some pop in his bat: 'I think he's strong enough to hit 20 homers a season in the big leagues.'

Griffin's strengths are his right arm Ñ he has thrown out 60 percent of the base runners attempting to steal on him Ñ and his mouth Ñ he speaks Spanish, something that's likely to come in handy with all the Cuban, Dominican and Puerto Rican pitchers finding their way into organized baseball.

'I was definitely hoping it would open some doors,' he says of learning a second language.

Griffin, a fifth-year senior who graduated from Jesuit High, expects to sign as a free agent after Portland's last game Sunday.