Surely the golfers outside heard the deafening noise coming from within Blue Hills Country Club on Thursday night.
Pitching phenom Riley Pint, a St. Thomas Aquinas product, had just been chosen fourth overall in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft, by the Colorado Rockies. An estimated 300 friends and family members gathered around a big-screen television and erupted in cheers and applause when commissioner Rob Manfred announced Pint’s name.
Pint was cool and collected, as he sat on a couch beneath the screen, looking up at the man announcing his future. But when that room erupted as loudly as if they were at an actual baseball game, Pint couldn’t help but grin.
“That’s a moment I’ll never forget,” Pint said. “That was just awesome, and I’ve never experienced anything like that before. … It means everything because I’ve been working so hard over the past few years and now that it’s finally here, it’s just pure joy.”
Pint is the Kansas City area’s highest-ever pick in the MLB Draft. Not since the Royals drafted Bubba Starling fifth overall in 2011 has there been such a limelight on a Kansas City-area high school baseball player.
Pint is coming off one of the best local prep careers in recent memory.
The right-handed pitcher’s senior year at St. Thomas Aquinas was one for the ages, and coach Lorne Parks has previously said Pint is the best baseball player he’s ever coached. He threw 49 innings, giving up 22 hits and three earned runs. Pint sturck out 87 while regularly throwing at 100 mph.
Pint’s team also won the 5A state championship in late May, beating Shawnee Heights 14-9, and he drove in the go-ahead runs.
After Pint finished his live interview with MLB Network, he pulled on a Rockies baseball cap and made his way around the building crammed with hundreds of people. Friends, family, coaches and classmates from the first chapter of his baseball career mobbed him with hugs, handshakes and promises to come watch him pitch in Colorado.
Although Thursday represented the ending of Pint’s time in Kansas for the foreseeable future, he said he wasn’t too nostalgic about beginning anew. He’s been waiting for this moment, after all, since he was a little boy in a baseball jersey, pointing at an MLB game on television and telling his mother, Missy, “I’m going to be there one day.”
“I’ve been in Kansas all my life, and I’m just ready to go off and do my own thing,” he said. “Living in Kansas has kept me really humble throughout the years. My time here has just been amazing.”
Pint and his family came to a verbal agreement with the Rockies on Thursday night, according to Pint’s father, Neil. Pint plans to sign his contract in Denver when he goes for his team physical.
Once everything is official, Pint will likely start out playing rookie ball in Grand Junction, Colo., Rockies area scouting director Brett Baldwin said.
Baldwin previously worked with Pint when he was a director of player development for the Kansas City Barnstormers player development program, before joining the Rockies as a scout. He knows Pint’s makeup better than many in Major League Baseball, and said the pitcher’s career will make the Kansas City area proud.
“I absolutely believe he has the intangibles to do what it takes … Big-time makeup, big-time work ethic, and when you put that together with pure talent, you get something pretty special,” Baldwin said. “I grew up in Kansas City, so it’s cool to see a pretty historical thing. Riley’s going to put the city on the map for a long time to come.”
Before the grind of playing professional baseball begins, though, Pint will enjoy the moment he’s wanted since childhood. Surrounded by scores of his friends and family members on Thursday, Pint reveled in his dream finally becoming reality.
“It’s honestly unbelievable,” he said. “It’s just overwhelming. I’ve always wanted this since I was a little kid, and now that it’s finally here, I’m just stoked.”