Diamondbacks take All-Met Matthew McPhearson in fourth round

June 7, 2013

Riverdale Baptist center fielder Matthew McPhearson, left, was the top local player taken in the major league draft Friday. (Photo courtesy of Gerrick McPhearson)

Riverdale Baptist All-Met center fielder Matthew McPhearson was stretched out on the couch at home when his name popped up on the computer screen on which younger brother, Zech, was monitoring the Major League Baseball first-year player draft Friday afternoon.

Before McPhearson could rise, he was an Arizona Diamondback, selected in the fourth round, the 120th pick overall.

The Diamondbacks were one of a handful of teams with whom McPhearson had a pre-draft workout, so it did not come as a particular surprise that Arizona selected the player touted to be perhaps the fastest in the draft class.

McPhearson, who has signed to play at the University of Miami, already has made up his mind that he will not be taking his talents to South Beach after all.

“I’m going to play pro ball most definitely,” he said. “That’s my main objective. I want to get started early and grind it out and have fun.”

McPhearson’s father, Gerrick, thought that his son might be taken Thursday in one of the first two rounds, and Matthew thought that might be the case as well. Either way, he is ecstatic.

“It’s really not about where you go in the draft, it’s all about going in there and producing as a player and making it to the highest level,” McPhearson said. “I’m happy with where I went. I just have to go there and do the work.”

McPhearson this season batted .477, with 31 runs, 23 RBI, 20 walks and a .598 on-base percentage and stole 27 bases in 30 attempts. He had seven extra-base hits (no homers). He stole 66 bases last season.

McPhearson is not sure what his first stop as a member of Arizona organization will be, although he did plan to run out and pick up a Diamondbacks cap late Friday afternoon.

“Not to discount any other organization, but [Arizona] really has a good plan in place for developing young men into men, and there’s a lot of focus on making sure the guys are ready and not rushed through the system,” Gerrick McPhearson said. “However, if you’re one who has shown you’re ready, they don’t have a problem with giving you a fast track to the major leagues.”

Oakland chose Ole Miss right-hander Bobby Wahl, the 2010 All-Met player of the year out of West Springfield, in the fifth round, with the 161st pick. Baseball America had predicted that Wahl would go 36th.

That drop might be why Wahl tweeted Friday afternoon, “I can promise this no matter what happens I am going to be the hardest working person in the world from here on out. Motivated beyond belief”

The difference between being the 36th pick and the 161st? Whatever $1.5 million minus $286,200 is. One Washington area scout said some evaluators think that Wahl has some mechanical issues and a fastball that is “fairly straight.” But if that is the case, why was he picked to go so much higher?

Wahl told the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger on Friday that he has not ruled out returning to Ole Miss for his senior season.

“Of course I’ve thought about it. No matter what would have happened I would have thought about it, even if I’d have gone in the top 10 picks,” Wahl told the paper. “Ole Miss is a special place, a place I’ve called home. Obviously I’m thinking about it, but I’m in a win-win situation here with the Athletics. It’s a great organization. I have to wait and see.”

Wahl this season went 10-0 with a 2.03 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 97 and 2/3 innings, with 44 walks. Cleveland drafted him in the 39th round out of high school.

Maryland left-hander Jimmy Reed, a St. John’s graduate, went in the sixth round to St. Louis, with the 185th pick. The two-time ACC pitcher of the week this season went 6-4 with a 2.33 ERA, 74 strikeouts and 32 walks in 88 and 2/3 innings. The New York Yankees selected him in the 21st round last year, but Reed returned to Maryland for his senior year and got chosen 15 rounds higher this spring.

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Preston Williams · June 7, 2013

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