It’s a moment Gig Harbor High School senior shortstop Chad Stevens has always dreamed of. And on Wednesday afternoon, that dream became reality.
The San Diego Padres drafted Stevens in the 40th and final round of the Major League Baseball Draft, with the 1,188th pick.
“It was really cool,” Stevens said. “It was a lot of relief, too. It was getting pretty late in the draft. I was hoping to go a bit earlier.”
Better late than never. Stevens got a phone call after he had gotten home from school from the Padres’ Northwest Area Scout, Justin Baughman, informing Stevens that he had been selected.
Stevens, fresh off winning a Class 3A state title with the Tides, has been talking and working out with MLB teams for some time now, although he kept it a bit quiet.
“I’m sure it came as a surprise to a lot of people that I was drafted,” Stevens said.
Among those not surprised? His high school coach, Pete Jansen.
“At our end-of-year banquet when I said goodbye I told him he was going to play major league baseball,” Jansen told The News Tribune. “I had a feeling. He’s a great kid, very coachable, he has a lot of tools and he’s going to get stronger.”
He worked out in San Diego’s Petco Park earlier this month, along with a host of other prospects. Mostly, he feels proud.
“It’s a really big honor,” Stevens said. “It definitely makes you feel like the hard work paid off a little bit for now.”
Stevens has a full-ride scholarship to play baseball at the University of Portland, so he faces a decision now. The slot money for a 40th-round pick may not be enough to sway him from playing college baseball and receiving an education.
“I’m undecided right now,” Stevens said. “I’ll probably go to school, but I’ll wait to see what (the Padres) offer.”
Playing in college would give Stevens the opportunity to not only work toward a degree, but also to improve his draft stock.
“It’s motivation to try to be able to get into those higher rounds,” Stevens said. “And school is important to me. Academics are important to my family. It’d be tough to turn that down.”
The offer should come within the next few weeks, and Stevens would have at least a month to make his decision. Meanwhile, he’ll be playing summer ball for the Corvallis Knights in the West Coast League, beginning later this month.
Whatever Stevens ends up deciding to do, getting drafted is a moment he’ll never forget. He received an outpouring of text messages and phone calls from family and friends. Among them was from teammate and longtime friend Cameron MacIntosh.
“He texted me about 30 seconds after (the pick) popped up on Twitter,” Stevens said. “He’s a big part of my success. He’s always helped me get better.”