The defending World Series champions tapped into Albuquerque’s baseball talent pool for their final 2020 draftee.
Former Manzano High standout and San Jacinto College left-handed pitcher Mitchell Parker was drafted in the fifth round, No. 153rd overall, by the Washington Nationals on Thursday night.
“Definitely a huge sigh of relief,” Parker said. “Feels like a huge weight has been taken off my shoulders.”
Parker, who will be 21 in September, was drafted in each of the previous two years, but shunned the Chicago Cubs (28th round) and then Tampa Bay (27th round) to pitch at San Jacinto near Houston.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder was 5-0 in six sophomore starts for San Jacinto, striking out 64 in 30⅓ innings. He surrendered just four earned runs, leading to a sparkling ERA of 1.19. His 64 strikeouts led the country at the junior college level before the season was canceled.
“I’m still trying to figure out what I’m feeling,” he said about an hour after he received the news. He and his family watched the draft on ESPN2.
This year’s MLB draft was sliced down to five rounds in duration because of the coronavirus; there were only 160 players selected this week.
Because of that, Parker admitted he was sweating it out near the end of the evening Thursday. Undrafted players this year could sign only for a maximum of $20,000, and Parker had already made it clear that he was going to continue his college career at the University of Kentucky if he didn’t get drafted.
The assigned draft value for Parker at No. 153 is estimated to be $346,800, according to MLB.com.
“One hundred percent,” Parker said, asking if he was feeling nerves. “Even when we knew they were gonna (draft me), right up until we saw my name and heard my name, it was stressful.”
In the two days of the first-year player draft, Washington drafted four pitchers, with Parker being the only lefty of the bunch.
“It’s definitely gonna be awesome, being able to go with the team that won the World Series last year,” Parker said. “It’s just crazy.”
Parker was the second southpaw from San Jacinto drafted Thursday night. His teammate, Luke Little, went No. 117 overall to the Cubs. And Washington last year drafted another San Jacinto product, RHP Jackson Rutledge, No. 17 overall.
Parker roomed with Rutledge for a spell last summer in Rutledge’s hometown of St. Louis. Parker worked with a program in Missouri to tighten his mechanics. Rutledge welcomed Parker with a text Thursday night.
Soon, they may be teammates again.
“I’m ready to get this thing rolling and start my pro career,” Parker said.