The wait was over with one phone call on Monday night for Mississippi State pitcher Chris Stratton.
With that call, Stratton learned he had been selected with the 20th pick of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft by the San Francisco Giants.
“You can’t be nervous and just the fact they considered me in the first round is a blessing in and of itself,” said Stratton, who finished the season with an 11-2 record. “I had talked to Hugh Walker at the SEC Tournament, awesome guy. He just called me and we celebrated together. It was a great experience.”
Stratton’s draft position marks the highest by a Bulldog since Paul Maholm was taken 8th overall by Pittsburgh in 2003.
Stratton jumped onto the scene in 2012 after a lackluster sophomore campaign. In his first Southeastern Conference appearance, the right-hander struck out 17 LSU batters in a classic SEC battle in Baton Rouge.
“I think it was huge,” Stratton said of his career night against LSU. “The guy that called me said he saw me there. I said ‘well that was a good one to be at.’ It was just a fun game and it was good to go against Kevin Gausman. I’m just thankful to be able to pitch in the SEC and against guys like that week in and week out.”
While some may feel Stratton came out of nowhere, MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson says that’s not the case at all. Stratton was just a man with a plan.
“He could have been drafted out of high school if he would have wanted to,” said Thompson. “He had a couple of clubs visit with him then, but his family was clear on their intentions of going to school. They wanted him to play pro ball, but they wanted college to be part of the experience first so to me, he didn’t come out of nowhere. He just knew what he wanted coming out of high school.”
Stratton joins a rich history of first-round draftees for the Bulldogs dating back to 1966 when Del Unser was taken with the 18th pick of the draft by the Senators. He was the 11th Bulldog to be taken in the opening round and the first since Ed Easley was drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2007.
While there is little question the Giants have their draft evaluation down to a science, according to Thompson they just don’t know what they are getting with Stratton.
“They are getting more than a pitcher,” Thompson said. “They are getting somebody they can trust, somebody they can count on to make good decisions and really have the passion to do what is right all of the time. They picked a great guy to invest in with Stratton.”
While Stratton has yet to sign his big league contract, he and his agent, Bo McInnis, look forward to negotiating his contract and beginning his professional career in the very near future.
Stratton finishes his MSU career as the SEC Pitcher of the Year with 21 career wins and a C Spire Ferriss Trophy to his credit.
“We are excited for Chris," Bulldog head coach John Cohen said. "He is a very humble and deserving young man. This is a great fit for him and I know his family is excited and his Mississippi State family is excited. I just look forward to hopefully seeing Chris become a future big leaguer with the San Francisco Giants.”