Monday night, high school baseball players were chosen 1-2-3 in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, the first time that’s happened since 1990.
A lot of experts thought that the Minnesota Twins might make a California high school player the No. 1 pick, but most had Notre Dame Prep (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) pitcher-shortstop Hunter Greene going No. 1, not Junipero Serra (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) shortstop Royce Lewis.
“My body just went numb,” Lewis told MLB Network. “It was an unbelievable feeling.”
MORE MLB DRAFT: Greene goes No. 2 | Gore No. 3
HIGH SCHOOLS: Where every player drafted Monday went to high school
In 80 at-bats this season, Lewis hit .388 with 35 runs and 25 stolen bases and had an on-base percentage of .569.
JSerra baseball coach Brett Kay said he wasn’t stunned to hear Lewis’ name called first.
“No, I wasn’t. I have to be subjective, too,” Kay said. “But he earned that, it is something you can only dream about. Each family dreams about that scenario. He and his family just played it out in real life. He deserves it all.”
“You watch him play on the field, it’s infectious,” Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the Associated Press. “He’s a guy who loves his teammates. You can see him moving around all the time, being a part of it. We’re just so excited to have him. We know he’s going to be a leader the second he steps on the field. We’ll let the baseball play take care of itself.”
After the Minnesota Twins took Lewis with the No. 1 pick, the Cincinnati Reds followed with Greene and then Whiteville, N.C. left-handed pitcher and infielder MacKenzie Gore went third, to the San Diego Padres.
Gore, who throws in the high 90s, is considered a pitcher first. The East Carolina commit went 11-0 with a paltry 0.19 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 74.1 innings. However, he was nearly as good with his bat, hitting .478 with 29 RBI.
If history repeats itself, the 1-2-3 high school combination is a good omen for the three. In 1990, Chipper Jones, Tony Clark and Mike Lieberthal went in that order in the draft and all three went on to lengthy major league careers and were all-stars.
Jordon Adell, an outfielder and pitcher from Ballard in Louisville, Ky., talks to a member of the Los Angeles Angels after being selected No. 10 (Photo: Julio Cortez, Associated Press)
There were other high school players chosen high. The No. 5 selection was outfielder Austin Beck from North Davidson (Lexington, N.C.), who played against Gore as a freshman and sophomore.
“We talk here and there and I’ve known (Gore) for a pretty long time,” Beck said. “It’s outstanding. The state is finally getting some credit for the players we produce.”
Beck said he had a good feeling after he had a good workout in Oakland recently.
“It’s always a surprise in the draft, because it’s so predictable, but I had a good feeling after they (the Athletics) went to a couple of my games and I went out there in the last two weeks and got to hit after a game and talk with all the top guys,” Beck said.
There was a North Carolina connection for the No. 10 pick as well with Ballard (Louisville) outfielder Jordon “Jo” Adell going to the Anaheim Angels in that slot. His father was an offensive lineman at North Carolina State and Jordon was born in Charlotte and lived briefly as a young child in Durham. Adell was the fifth high school player taken in the top 10 selections of Monday’s draft.