Ultimately, every high school and college baseball player would love to play professional baseball someday. That’s the goal, the dream.
Fortunately for Baylor, some of the Bears’ aspiring future pros are willing to put their futures on hold.
In the 38th round of the Major League Draft this past week, the San Francisco Giants selected Midway graduate and Baylor signee Will Rigney. Five picks later, Baylor junior reliever Luke Boyd was taken by the Los Angeles Angels.
But both players say they’ll be wearing green and gold in 2020.
After the Giants’ selection, Rigney tweeted, “Unbelievable gesture by the @SFGiants, but I’ve got some business to take care of at Baylor.”
Similarly, Boyd expressed his desire to return to Baylor on Twitter. “By far one of the coolest moments of my life!” Boyd wrote. “But I can’t leave Baylor Nation quite yet after all it’s done for me. I’ll be back!”
Rigney should give the Bears a power arm, as the 6-foot-5 right-hander can run his fastball up into the mid-90s on the radar gun. Sidelined by injuries as a senior, he was 10-2 for the Panthers his junior year with 117 strikeouts in 74.2 innings.
Rigney’s father Charlie was a Baylor letterman from 1988-91.
Boyd turned in a breakout year as a reliable bullpen arm for the Bears in 2019. The right-hander was 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA, striking out 41 batters in 33.2 innings.
While Boyd and Rigney will be in Waco next spring, Baylor’s Shea Langeliers and Davis Wendzel are sure bets to sign after being drafted ninth and 41st overall by the Braves and Rangers, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Rangers also snapped up Baylor junior left-hander Cody Bradford in the sixth round. Bradford missed most of this season with thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition that compresses the nerves, arteries or veins in the passageway from the lower neck to the armpit. He had surgery to correct the condition that shut down his season in March.
But he was the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year in 2018, and he is expected to sign with the Rangers, a team he rooted for growing up in Aledo. “Yeah, no problems with signability,” Bradford told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Bradford is engaged to Baylor softball player Madi O’Neal.
One other player will have an interesting decision to make. Shortstop Cody Freeman, a Baylor signee from Etiwanda, Calif., went 115th overall, in the fourth round, to the Rangers. With serious line-drive hitting ability, he was a riser on many prospect boards in the weeks leading up to the draft.
College juniors, high school seniors and junior college players who were drafted have until July 15 to decide to sign or return to school.
Castano promoted to Double-A
Daniel Castano’s ascent up the minor-league ladder continues.
The former Baylor pitcher was promoted from the Miami Marlins’ advanced Class A affiliate in Jupiter, Fla., to their Double-A team in Jacksonville on May 27. A 6-foot-4 lefthander, Castano is a solid presence on the mound, and he’s been solid in his production this year. Between those two stops, he sports a 3.66 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP and 35 strikeouts in 39.1 innings. All but one of his 15 appearances have come out of the bullpen.
Castano was a 19th-round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016, but was traded to the Marlins organization in December 2017 as part of a package that sent slugging outfielder Marcell Ozuna to the Cards.
Kent back hurling in Portland
On May 29, the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox sent Matthew Kent to Double-A Portland. Even though it’s a step down the organizational ladder, Portland has been a good home for the Midway pitcher.
Last year, Kent was an Eastern League All-Star selection while going 11-8 with a 3.58 ERA in 23 starts in Portland.
In 2019, the 26-year-old southpaw out of Texas A&M owns a 1-4 record with a 5.98 ERA across those two stops. But he’s been better in Portland, with a 3.13 ERA, and Double-A hitters are batting only .239 against him.
Blue Jays release ex-MCC slugger
Brandon Grudzielanek is on the lookout for a new baseball home.
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, released Grudzielanek on May 27. The former McLennan Community College infielder was scuffling at the plate for the Fisher Cats, hitting just .156 with 20 strikeouts in 45 at-bats.
But the 24-year-old is only two years removed from a season in which he hit .302 across two levels of pro ball, so maybe he’ll latch on somewhere.