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05/29/07 8:22 PM EST

Dawson to represent Marlins at Draft

Special assistant with organization grew up in South Florida

MIAMI -- A third baseman in high school, Andre Dawson went on to enjoy a 21-year career as an All-Star outfielder.

Growing up in South Florida, Dawson attended Miami Senior High School, and went on to Florida A&M before being drafted in the 11th round by the Montreal Expos in 1975.

Now a special assistant with the Marlins, Dawson will represent the organization at the June 7 First-Year Player Draft in Orlando.

MLB.com will broadcast every pick of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, which takes place June 7-8 at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando. Day 1 coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with a simulcast of ESPN2's broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. Video coverage of the remaining rounds on Day 1 will air at MLB.com, with live interviews and analysis from Orlando by Casey Stern, Jonathan Mayo and Perfect Game USA's Dave Rawnsley.

Day 2 of the Draft will get under way at 11:30 a.m. ET and continue through Round 50, if necessary. Every pick on Day 2 can be heard live at MLB.com with analysis from Mayo and Perfect Game USA's Allan Simpson.

Also once again this year, fans can follow every pick with MLB.com's live Draft Tracker, a searchable database of every Draft eligible player featuring biographical data, statistics, scouting reports and rare scouting video.

An exceptional representative of the game and the team, Dawson compiled a sensational big-league career that has made him a candidate for the Hall of Fame. He was an eight-time All-Star, and in 1987 he was the National League MVP. A gifted athlete, he also garnered eight Gold Glove Awards.

Looking back, being drafted by the Expos made Dawson's baseball dreams possible.

"I was given an early heads-up that there was a possibility that I might get selected," Dawson said.

Before the 1975 draft, the Expos invited Dawson and Clint Hurdle, now the Colorado Rockies manager, to West Palm Beach for a tryout.

"We were the only two they invited down there. He went in the first round to Kansas City, and I went in the 11th round to Montreal," Dawson said. "I was in college at the time. I was torn between what I was going to do. It depended on where I was selected in the draft. Even though it was low, I made the decision that this is something I always wanted to do. This was a breakthrough and an opportunity for me, and I went ahead and signed."

Draft 2007 | Complete Coverage
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Pick POS Name School
1. TB LHP David Price Vanderbilt U
2. KC SS Michael Moustakas Chatsworth HS (Calif.)
3. CHC 3B Josh Vitters Cypress HS (Calif.)
4. PIT LHP Daniel Moskos Clemson U
5. BAL C Matthew Wieters Georgia Tech
6. WSH LHP Ross Detwiler Missouri St U
7. MIL LF Matthew LaPorta U Florida
8. COL RHP Casey Weathers Vanderbilt U
9. ARI RHP Jarrod Parker Norwell HS
10. SF LHP Madison Bumgarner South Caldwell HS
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Had he not signed then, Dawson was prepared to go back to Florida A&M for his senior season and re-enter the draft the following year.

At the tryout in West Palm Beach, Dawson and Hurdle took some batting practice, shagged fly balls and fielded grounders.

"The wind was blowing in a ton, so you couldn't really crush the ball," Dawson said. "[Hurdle], of course, had a bit bigger build. I was thin-framed. He was coming out of high school. There wasn't really a big difference in what we'd done out there."

In the big leagues, Dawson played for the Expos, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and he finished up his career with the Marlins in 1996.

A .279 career hitter with 438 home runs, 1,591 RBIs, 2,774 hits and 314 stolen bases, Dawson has played his final seasons on worn-down knees. His teammates at the time respected his professionalism and how he prepared and played in pain.

As a special assistant, Dawson helps conduct drills and teaches the Marlins outfielders at the big-league and Minor League levels.

Since he was drafted, he says there have been changes in how players are evaluated now compared to then.

"Then, if you were not a pitcher, they tended to go after individuals they felt were good athletes, and they could make them into a position player if they didn't have a steady position," Dawson said. "There is more emphasis now on off-the-field training and conditioning. Everybody feels there is more money involved, and they are going the extra step.

"I think the position players who are drafted as position players now, that's pretty much the position they are going to play, unless their speed is one of their strengths. Then they could be moved to one of the outfield spots. But for the most part, guys are pretty much drafted and staying in one position."

At Miami Senior High, Dawson played third base and he went on to play center field at Florida A&M.

"I was drafted as a center fielder, played center field, but eventually was moved to right field," Dawson said.

Wherever he was on the field, he made an impact.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.