When local athletes go pro, they become the sports spotlight in the local media, and everyone seems to know who they are.
For five years in a row, the Tech baseball team has produced at least one draft pick for the MLB, with three coming from the 2009-2010 squad. The highest pick was fifth-rounder Stephen Pryor, who signed with the Oakland A’s.
Tech’s top prospect for professional baseball is junior Tristan Archer. Archer was drafted out of high school, also by the Oakland A’s, and was awarded OVC pitcher of the week earlier in the season. He also leads the team in ERA and strikeouts (minimum 10 innings pitched).
Head Coach Matt Bragga said that Archer, as well as “a few other guys”, are being looked at by major league scouts.
“It’s great for our program,” said Bragga. “We hope that when guys come in here, that is their aspiration, to play at the next level.”
Major league attention can also benefit Tech’s recruitment process. If a high school baseball player is being recruited by various colleges, often times the player will look and see how many players were drafted out of that college. This can be a major factor in deciding where to play on the collegiate level.
“Whenever you have four or five years in a row where players are drafted, it can influence a young man to consider Tech more than before,” said Bragga. “It’s not a huge percentage of college players who get this opportunity [to play professionally], but it does show these chances are definitely real.”
A player of professional grade not only performs well, but keeps composure when faced with adversity and success, especially if they are pitchers. Freshman David Hess, starting pitcher for the Golden Eagles, has learned how upperclassmen pitchers Archer and senior Cullen Park handle themselves on the mound.
“David is very level-headed, which is odd for a freshman,” said Bragga. “Having Archer and guys of that nature definitely help, because David can see them keep a pretty even keel when on the mound.”
Bragga said the Tech baseball team hopes to continue the process of getting players drafted consistently in the future. Tech, like all other NCAA baseball programs, will continue to build up its team and make a run for the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.