Within moments of hearing his named called as the No. 54 overall during Mondays Major League Baseball first-year player draft, Mitch Guellers nervousness turned into disbelief.
His dream of being drafted came true when the Philadelphia Phillies selected Gueller, a W.F. West High School senior, with their second pick during Mondays first day of the draft. The Phillies didnt have a first-round pick, but used their two compensation round picks on two high school right-handed pitchers Gueller and Shane Watson out of Lakewood, Calif. The compensation round falls in-between the first and second rounds, awarding organizations for losing certain free agents in the off-season.
Gueller becomes the highest local high school drafted player since 1999, when Centralias Jason Strumm was taken in the first round No. 15 overall by the Chicago White Sox. Last year, Olympias Adam Conley was drafted in the second round at No. 72 overall following his junior season at Washington State.
This is a new chapter, Gueller said from his familys home in Rochester, where family and friends gathered for the draft. Its pretty cool. I was nervous to begin with. I didn't know what was going to happen. Then, all of a sudden, boom, everything changed. I cant believe it.
Gueller said its too early to decide whether to go pro or stick with his commitment to Washington State, where he signed a letter of intent last November.
I love the guys at Wazzu, he said.
Philadelphia was one of numerous teams who scouted Gueller, a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, at games this spring, where he posted a 6-0 record on the mound with a 0.80 earned-run average and 70 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings pitched, leading the Bearcats to the 2A Evergreen Conference title and a 2A state regional berth. His fastball is consistently in the low-90s and has touched 95 mph. He also has pop at the plate, with five home runs and a .323 batting average. Gueller said Philadelphia scouted him as a pitcher, and former Phillies and Mariners General Manager Pat Gillick attended three of Guellers games.
Gueller called the Philadelphia organization big-time success, winning the National League East title the past five seasons and earning back-to-back World Series appearances in 2008 and 09. The Phillies won the World Series in 2008.
Theyre a good organization with good player development, Gueller said. Im excited to be a part of the Phillies and to be drafted by them.
Not only is Gueller a standout on the diamond, he also was first-team all-2A Evergreen Conference honoree in football and basketball. As the Bearcats starting quarterback, he guided the team to the 2A state semifinals this past fall, and on the hardwood, averaged 13.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game as a forward on the boys basketball team.
The first-year player draft continues Tuesday with rounds two through 15. Two local players Olympia shortstop Cabe Reiten, a Gonzaga signee, and Centralia outfielder Andrew Pullin, an Oregon signee -- are expected to be drafted. Olympia coach Todd McDougall said Reiten could be a top-five-round pick, while Pullin has been projected as a seventh- to 10th-round pick.