With the 141st pick in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB Draft on Friday, the Milwaukee Brewers selected University of Kentucky pitcher Zack Brown, of Seymour.
In the Seymour High School hitting facility, surrounded by family, friends and past coaches, Brown became the highest-drafted baseball player in school history.
While most draftees receive a phone call prior to getting selected, Brown didn’t know until his name and photo popped-up on the projector.
“I was expecting a call — that’s how it was going to go,” Brown said. “I got a text from my advisor saying he was pushing for two teams, but he didn’t say which two teams. Then it came up and it was a big surprise.”
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Some experts had Brown projected to go towards the end of the second round on Thursday, or early in the third and fourth rounds Friday.
That made for a long wait for those on Seymour’s campus.
For Brown, the waiting period felt excruciating.
“It was a sense of relief,” Brown said after hearing his name called. “It was a mix of frustration and tension inside of me. There is a lot going on, and once you hear your name it’s just a blessing
“You see a lot of right-handed pitchers go and know teams are crossing names off the board. Just hearing (my name) in the fifth round — I’m ready to go. I’m going to make the most of the opportunity.”
Sitting next to Brown, Owls varsity coach Jeremy Richey wrapped his arm around his former player to congratulate him on the accomplishment.
“It’s tough because there are so many factors that go into it,” Richey said of the wait. “It was tough on him. There are so many things that happen that we don’t know about during the draft. However, it’s all worth it.”
Brown then hugged his parents, Cathy and Bob, before getting a phone call from his advisor and the regional scout for the Brewers.
“It’s crazy,” Brown said. “You play in the backyard growing up and want to be an MLB player. Some people say, ‘No that can’t happen, no one from Seymour does anything like that.’ It’s huge. I’m going to prove people wrong, and prove it to myself that I can do it.”
This past week, with everything going on surrounding the draft, Brown worked with Richey at the baseball camp hosted by the high school.
“He spent three of the past four days working with our camp on one of the biggest weeks of his life,” Richey said. “It shows what type of kid he is. I’m so proud of him and can’t wait to buy a Brewers hat.”
Brown, who graduated from Seymour in 2013, said he has near a month and a half to make the decision if he wants to sign with the Brewers’ organization.
Should he not sign, Brown will pitch his senior year with the University of Kentucky.
In his junior season, he tossed 62 strikeouts with 34 walks with an opponents batting average of .312 in 841/3 innings pitched in 14 games for the Wildcats.
Following his final year at Seymour, Brown was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 38th round of the 2013 MLB Draft — but he declined the offer.
However, this time around he was drafted much higher, which means there’s more guaranteed money if he puts ink to paper.
In the 2015 draft, the 141st pick had an overall value of $384,000, according to MLB.com.
Financial terms discussed in Brown’s contract were not available to the The Tribune.
Brown said that he likely will visit Milwaukee in the coming weeks before making the decision if he wants to join the Brewers.
Since he already pitched a full year with the Wildcats, Brown would likely play a short season in the fall if he goes pro.
“If he decides to go, I assume it will be to a short-season A team since he has already pitched a full year — they’re not going to throw a bunch of innings at him,” Richey said. “His work load would start towards the end of next season. He would be in the full swing of things next year.”
Whatever decision he makes, Richey said that Brown represents the best that Seymour can offer.
“It’s so special, when you start talking about the type of kid that he is, and what he has done for our program and his family,” Richey said.
“He represents this community and the school. He does things the right way. He’s here because of his work ethic. He’s a tremendous student and kid. He’s going to do great things.”
Former Seymour high school baseball players that competed professionally include:
Stan Schroer, Pittsburgh Pirates, 26th round No. 595
Luke Wrenn, Pittsburgh Pirates, 37th round No. 750
Rick Meyer, Philadelphia Phillis, UDFA
Mike Russell, Chicago Cubs, UDFA
Jason Roeder, Kansas City Royals, UDFA