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Catcher from The Heights selected in MLB draft

Will Chris Berset be the first professional athlete from a small private school in Potomac?

Berset, a second-team All-Met catcher at The Heights School as a senior in 2006, was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 20th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday. Berset played the past four years at the University of Michigan and was second-team All-Big Ten this past season.

When he signs a contract -- which shouldn't take long, given that as a college senior he has little negotiating leverage -- Berset will become the first graduate of The Heights to play sports professionally.

The only other former student at The Heights to turn professional?

Former soccer prodigy Freddy Adu, who attended as a middle schooler before moving on to pursue his athletic career. The school has 465 students in grades 3 to 12.

"I don't know if you even consider that," Berset said.

For Berset, the key to becoming a pro prospect was in the offseason following his sophomore year. Wolverines Coach Rich Maloney, Berset said, got on his case about the need to improve.

"He wasn't too easy on me," Berset said. "He told me I wasn't good enough, that I had to get better and I had to work my rear end off to play at the next level."

While Berset broke his thumb his junior season, he had made significant strides as a player. Most importantly, he said, was a changed outlook as he viewed himself as the best on the field. He might have missed a month of the season and lost some weight and strength while injured, but Berset's changed perspective made a difference.

"It's so much easier when you feel like you're the best out there and everybody is scared of you," Berset said. "It doesn't matter if it is true. If you believe it, you bring that confidence with you and it helps out a lot."

This past season, Berset batted .373 with 15 doubles, seven home runs and 50 RBI. He had a 21-game hitting streak and threw out 24 of 58 would-be base stealers.

"It was more of a mental growing than a physical growing," he said. "Knowing you can succeed and knowing you're the best on the field no matter who you're playing against."

By Josh Barr  |  June 8, 2010; 6:25 PM ET
 
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