As the clock wound down on the 2017 MLB Draft on Wednesday, Staley baseball player and Missouri State signee Matt Russell heard Platte County catcher Justin Mitchell’s name called in the 39th round by the Royals.
Soon enough, Russell got a call of his own. The Los Angeles Angels had selected Russell, a right-handed pitcher, with their 40th-round pick, 1,195th overall.
“It was kind of like — it was very unreal,” Russell said. “It was kind of like all your hard work pays off. And, I don’t know, it humbles me.”
Russell won’t sign with the West Coast team. His draft stock plummeted early when teams became aware that Russell was committed to playing at Missouri State, which this year beat Arkansas to make it to the NCAA Super Regionals in Fort Worth.
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Receiving attention in spite of that encouraged the future Division I player, who will be reunited with former Staley teammate Jack Duffy in Springfield.
“The message that I’ve got is they think I can come in and make a difference right away,” Russell said. “They don’t know (how) yet, but I do think I can make a difference right out of the gate.”
Earlier in the draft, the Toronto Blue Jays selected Blue Valley alum Gunner Halter in the 22nd round. The Seminole State shortsop hit .440 with 19 home runs and 55 RBIs and stole 14 bases. Halter had signed with Kansas State before he graduated in 2016 but ended up playing at the Oklahoma junior college instead.
Mizzou’s Bryce Montes de Oca, who was ranked the 15th-best high school righty when he graduated from Lawrence in 2014, was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 15th round. As a junior, Montes de Oca was 4-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 61 innings.
Rockhurst alum and Villanova senior Todd Czinege was chosen in the 29th round by the Colorado Rockies.
Former Blue Valley Southwest pitcher Miller Hogan was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 32nd round out of Saint Louis University.