Luke Shilling may have waited longer than he expected but, on Wednesday afternoon, it finally happened: his name was called in the Major League Baseball draft.
Shilling blossomed from a solid hitting catcher to a right-handed pitcher that can throw a 95 mph fastball within the span of a year for the Pontiac Notre Dame Prep baseball team. Because of his powerful arm, Shilling was projected to be taken as high as the third round according to some mock drafts. Yet, Shilling waited until the pick 588 – the 20th round – when the Texas Rangers picked him.
Shilling is currently in the Cincinnati area playing for the amateur Midland Redskins and he was in the middle of a workout when the news came through. When he went to check his phone, it appeared many others had found out before Shilling did.
“When I picked up my phone after the workout, it was just buzzing, buzzing, buzzing with congratulation texts,” Shilling said. “Twitter was blowing up on me so, I knew right then and there. The area scout … called me and told me that they had pulled my name.”
Through a majority of his first year as a pitcher with Notre Dame Prep, Shilling had a 7-1 record with a 0.70 ERA in 49.2 innings pitched. Astoundingly, he has had 5 earned runs allowed and has given up just 11 total hits with 104 strikeouts. His opponents have a batting average of .073 against him. He has also been named the Gatorade Player of the Year for baseball in the state of Michigan.
Since Shilling had not been a pitcher until his senior year, getting drafted as a pitcher is certainly a much welcomed honor.
“Obviously, it’s an awesome thing,” Shilling said. “It’s something you dream about since when you’re a little kid. It just comes so much quicker than you think and to have it finally here, you see all of your hard work pay off.”
(Video Caption: Pontiac Notre Dame Prep senior pitcher Luke Shilling is one of the top baseball prospects in the country thanks to his 95 mph fastball. Many MLB scouts are often seen at the games he starts and he is also commited to the University of Illinois. Jared Purcell | firstname.lastname@example.org)
Yet, despite being drafted by the Rangers, Shilling has already decided that he will stick with his scholarship to the University of Illinois and play college ball next year. In the end, there was not an offer that late in the draft that could lure Shilling away from his opportunity at Illinois.
Shilling said the only way he will get signing bonus money is if enough players in front of him pass on their offers.
Still, being drafted later than expected will just make Shilling work even harder at Illinois for a chance to be drafted higher in the future.
“It can leave a little bit of a bad taste in your mouth when you think you’re going to get this amount of money and all that and then it doesn’t work out,” Shilling said. “When teams don’t really think you’re worth what they say you are. It kind of puts a chip on your shoulder and kind of gets you ready to go at for a few more years at Illinois.
“Whatever happens, happens. It’s kind of out of my control. One of the things I can control is going (to Illinois) and putting my work in and working hard and performing out on the field.”