Matt Mercer counted the days — 635 — that passed between the time he had Tommy John surgery as a Timberline High School pitcher and when he tossed his next baseball game in college.
The hard-throwing right-hander starred on the mound for the Blazers, and was a two-time all-state selection, before surgery brought his flourishing career to a halt.
He missed his senior season and went undrafted out of high school in 2015 because of his injury.
Three years later, after stringing together a trio of productive seasons at the University of Oregon, Mercer is back on the professional track.
The 21-year-old was selected in the fifth round of the 2018 MLB Draft on Tuesday by the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have scouted him since high school.
Mercer, 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, was the No. 159 overall pick, and the first Ducks player to be drafted this year. He's the highest draft pick Timberline has ever produced. The assigned signing bonus is slotted at $315,000.
"When you have surgery, you never know what's going to happen," Mercer said. "I've known guys who have had surgery and came back better, and guys who haven't come back the same. There are times during rehab when it's tough, and you're not quite on the time schedule you thought you would be able to come back on.
"I went 635 days without pitching a game. There's a lot of what-ifs going on. Being able to come back from that has helped me a lot and will help me later on in life."
Mercer posted a 0.92 earned run average as a junior in high school, earning first-team All-American honors from Perfect Game. He was an honorable-mention All-American as a sophomore with a 1.02 ERA.
He was projected to be Timberline's ace again as a senior, until he tore the ligament in his elbow the summer before his final year.
Timberline coach Mark Rubadue said Mercer still showed up every day and worked on rehabbing his arm.
"Here is a credit to Matt Mercer," Rubadue said. "You talk about people who are driven and goal-oriented — we talked about him maybe playing first base or DH, doing something that doesn't wear and tear on the elbow.
"He was like, 'Nope.' That's tough, for someone that competitive to say I'm not going to play because I can see my future ahead. Every day he came to practice, and he had a plan."
Mercer pitched primarily as a reliever when he joined the Ducks, logging 40 innings as a freshman in 2016. His final two seasons, he transitioned to a starting role.
"I was thankful with how they treated me," Mercer said. "They didn't rush me in. I ended up relieving a little bit, and got to start the last two years. It's been a good three years there."
Mercer finished 5-7 with a 4.16 ERA in 15 starts this season as a junior, logging 88 2/3 innings and striking out 86.
It wasn't quite the season or the draft spot — he was projected at No. 105 by MLB.com — he had hoped for, he said, but there is an obvious upside.
"I still have the same opportunity as everybody else," he said. "That's really exciting to get the opportunity to start my professional career for a good organization."
Mercer's power and arm strength — he has a fastball that can reach 97 mph — continue to be his be his best qualities, though he said he's continuing to develop his off-speed pitches.
He was the third right-hander the Diamondbacks selected on Tuesday behind Kansas' Jackson Goddart (third round, No. 99 overall) and Wright State's Ryan Weiss (fourth, No. 129).
Mercer said he hopes to follow in the footsteps of other former Ducks — such as Jimmie Sherfy, Tim Susnara and Mark Karaviotis — in the Diamondbacks organization.
"They're a great team," he said. "They really take a lot of pride in their player development and take good care of their players."