Bullington drafted No. 1, Hagerty goes in first round

Chris Mihal

sports editor

Fishers-At noon Tuesday the Pittsburgh Pirates announced they selected junior pitcher Bryan Bullington with the No. 1 pick in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft.

"We knew he would get drafted pretty high, and we were hoping Pittsburgh, but we didn't know what was going to happen," said Larry Bullington, Bryan's father.

The family was browsing the Internet and found out the news.

"I found out when everybody else did," Bryan Bullington said. "We heard across the Internet."

Bullington and his family celebrated the selection at their home in Fishers, and later held a press conference for the event.

Bullington was the first pitcher to be taken No. 1 since Detroit took Matt Anderson from Rice University in 1997. He became the first Ball State and Mid-American Conference player to ever be selected No. 1 in either baseball, football or basketball.

"I've felt all along that this kid was the No. 1 guy, it just took longer for some other people to figure out," said Rich Maloney, former baseball head coach. "I'm humbled as his coach to experience this with him, and I'm extremely happy for him and his family."

The right-hander Bullington finished the 2002 baseball season with an 11-3 record and a 2.84 ERA. He set the Ball State and MAC single season records for strikeouts with 139 and holds the career records with 357.

"I think Bryan just solidified everything we had worked for to build in this program, and I'm excited for Ball State University," Maloney said. "And I'm especially excited for Bryan Bullington."

Bullington had a sudden "gut check" at the beginning of the year when he had an 0-2 record and was warming up for the Miami (Fla.) game.

"In the fall I was No. 2 on Baseball America's prospect list and then I slid a little bit there at the beginning of the season," Bullington said. "But I think the moment of truth was when I was getting ready to warmup at Miami of Florida, the defending national champion and ranked 17th in the country.

"I was standing there with an 0-2 record to myself, and I'm thinking 'It's kind of a gut-check time, I better get going now, or it might not happen.'"

He led the Cardinals to a 12-4 victory over the Hurricanes by posting 13 strikeouts and giving up three earned runs.

"That was kind of a great confidence boost," Bullington said. "To go out and throw well against them (Miami) and for our team to pick up a win."

Pirate general manager Dave Littlefield was reported saying that Bullington is still years away with room for improvement.

"As a person he's just going to grow and mature," Larry Bullington said. "He's definitely aware of things going on around him.

"As a pitcher; as you move on up, you have to adjust. The good thing is he's going to get to throw against wooden bats now, instead of those aluminum things."

Maloney felt Bullington is going to be a great starter when he gets to majors. He said that Bullington has the potential to be a durable No. 1 or No. 2 starter.

"I think he has a realistic shot of winning 20 games and being an all star."

Two of Bullington's teammates were drafted this year as well.

Left-hander Luke Hagerty was selected No. 32 by the Chicago Cubs and infielder/pitcher Paul Henry was selected in the 7th round by the Baltimore Orioles.

Hagerty finished the 2002 season with a 7-4 record with a 3.02 ERA.

Henry hit .332 with 59 RBI's, and was 2-4 along with 3 saves.

Ball State was the only school to have two first round picks.

"The way these guys represent themselves on and off the field is a great testament to why Ball State was successful and certainly why Bryan is the No. 1 pick," Maloney said. "It's not only about his baseball talent, it's also about who he is as a person."

Bryan's father Larry, said it was a great day for Bryan and the rest of the family.

"I'm 50, and this is probably the best day of my life. Being drafted No. 1 in the country with all the great high school players and college players around the US, and being from Indiana, I think that says a lot for him. It says a lot for the baseball we play in this area.

"Hopefully it's going to give an incentive to a lot of young guys coming up playing baseball." 4420$

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