BASEBALL: 3 players taken in MLB DRAFT
For the first time since 2011, the Ball State baseball team had a player selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
In fact, the program saw three former athletes get the chance to continue their baseball careers — the San Diego Padres took T.J. Weir, the Atlanta Braves chose Sean Godfrey and Nestor Bautista went to the Miami Marlins.
“It’s a dream for each of those boys,” head coach Rich Maloney said. “To see their names put on the board, and get an opportunity to play professional baseball, is a dream come true for them.”
|17||507||San Diego Padres||Weir, T.J|
|22||673||Atlanta Braves||Godfrey, Sean|
|32||947||Miami Marlins||Bautista, Nestor|
Weir was the only one of the three former Cardinals who did not workout for a team before the draft, but he was the first to be chosen.
The Padres selected him in the 17th round with the 507th pick.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I’m so excited, I’m so happy. I am just blessed that this worked out and I’m just excited I get to keep continuing to play as a professional.”
Weir, who was playing “Scrabble” with family and friends when he received the news, said a scout from the Padres’ organization had called him Friday night and told him the team was interested in taking him as early as the 17th round.
True to word, San Diego made the 6-foot right-hander one of the team’s 40 picks and one of the 25 pitchers it drafted.
In his senior season at Ball State, teammates picked him to serve as a team captain, and Maloney said he knows the Padres are getting more than just a hard thrower.
“He’s a leader,” Maloney said. “He’s a gritty pitcher, and he proved it time and time again. ... I couldn’t be more happy for T.J.”
Today, Weir will head to Arizona where he will partake in a three-day mini-camp. He will then stay in Arizona or fly to Eugene, Ore., and join the Eugene Emeralds, the Padres’ Class A Short Season affiliate.
Heading into the draft, some scouts thought Godfrey would hear his name called as early as the eighth round.
For whatever reason, it wasn’t until the 22nd round when the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year was selected by the Braves.
“The draft is a funny thing,” said Maloney, who was drafted by the Braves in the 13th round of the 1986 draft. “Why guys get selected where they get selected is really a mystery. It’s kind of like this big puzzle these teams are putting together and who knows what they are thinking.”
In addition to being named the MAC Player of the Year, Godfrey also was recognized for his senior campaign by being named to the Louisville Slugger All-America Third Team, chosen by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
Despite national recognition, the 6-foot-2-inch outfielder had to wait until the 673rd pick in the draft to hear his name called. He said being overlooked is something he has gotten used to.
“It’s almost like the same situation coming out of high school,” Godfrey said. “Not being highly recruited, not getting any looks ... it’s motivation. It keeps me humble, and I am going to go out and do the best I can and just go from there. No pressure, nothing to lose.”
After signing his minor league deal, Godfrey will head to Orlando, Fla., for a week long mini-camp before being assigned to one of the Braves’ minor league affiliates.
As the last of the three Cardinals to be picked, Bautista anxiously waited until the 32nd round before the Marlins took him with the 947th pick of the draft.
“I was getting really nervous once the 30th round came,” Bautista said. “But my mom said to have faith, so I had a lot of faith and just waited and waited, and it happened. There are no words to describe how I feel.”
After overcoming a torn labrum his junior year, Bautista improved his draft stock by pitching to a 3.55 earned-run average and holding opposing hitters to a .233 batting average in his final collegiate season.
The 6-foot-3-inch left-hander will report to Jupiter, Fla., where he will be evaluated before being placed on one of the Marlins’ seven minor league affiliates.