The annual Major League Baseball Draft is a long, often excruciating affair that involves more unknown players than anyone can possible imagine. Well, they're unknown to the average baseball fan, but I'd like to think scouts will know about a random high schooler selected in the 45th round. However, the length of the draft (maximum 50 rounds), can often lead to some random selections on occasion.
Today we had such a selection as the Los Angeles Dodgers selected former high school baseball player Mickey McConnell in the 31st round of the 2011 MLB Draft. I say former because McConnell has not played organized baseball in four years and has spent the last four years starring in basketball for the St. Mary's Gaels.
McConnell is not the first player to be picked in spite of a lack of recent baseball experience. In 2000, the Colorado Rockies used a 30th round pick to take a flyer on a little known ball player out of Blacksburg, Virginia named Michael Vick. The Rockies scouting director made the pick entirely because of Vick's speed and potential ability to cover ground in the outfield.
McConnell admitted he was rather surprised by the pick, but also said he is still looking to continue his pursuit of a professional basketball career:
"It's exciting, I'm totally surprised, this was a little bit unexpected," said McConnell. "The last time I played was four years ago in high school. In the summers I would hit a little bit and do minor baseball stuff with my brother but nothing serious or organized."