For Lawrence High standout pitcher Albert Minnis, getting drafted was the easy part.
The process of plotting out his immediate future likely will take a bit more work.
Minnis was selected in the 33rd round of Wednesday’s major-league baseball first-year player draft by the Atlanta Braves, but the senior left-hander said he won’t know until late this summer whether he’ll sign with the club or attend Wichita State University, with whom he signed a national letter of intent in November.
“It’s just kind of a wait-and-see situation right now,” Minnis said before Wednesday’s Kansas Association of Baseball Coaches All-Star showcase. “I’d love to go play baseball at Wichita State, but then again, if the money’s right, I’ll take it and do what I can.”
On Wednesday, Minnis admitted that he’d hoped to go higher in the draft, but spoke highly of the Braves organization and seemed encouraged by the prospect of what’s described as a “draft-and-follow,” in which scouts from an organization draft a player and then evaluate him throughout the ensuing summer months before tendering an offer.
“We’re going to have to see how the summer plays out,” Minnis said. “They’re going to come and watch me some more and determine how much I’m worth, and if their offer matches up with what I’m thinking money-wise, then we’ll go. But if we don’t meet somewhere in the middle, I guess I’m going to end up going to Wichita.”
While not as dominating statistically as he was during a first-team Class 6A all-state season as a junior in 2009, Minnis, who transferred to LHS from Missouri’s Park Hill High midway through his high school career, certainly maintained his status as one of the state’s top players.
In 51 innings, he struck out 82 batters, threw five complete games and finished with a 5-3 record and 1.92 earned-run average to earn second-team all-state and first-team All-Sunflower League honors.
“His numbers might not have been as striking as they were his junior year, but he had a nice year and set the bar pretty high for himself,” said Lions coach Brad Stoll, whose team came within a game of qualifying for the 2010 Class 6A state tournament. “(Getting drafted) is a proud moment for a great kid.”
It also provides the player with a pair of attractive options.
One the one hand, Minnis has the opportunity to join an organization he grew up watching play on TBS, one that has produced some of the top pitchers of the past two decades (“[Tom] Glavine and [Greg] Maddux and [John] Smoltz; the list goes on and on,” Minnis said).
On the other, Wichita State has been one of the country’s strongest programs in recent years, annually churning out major-league draftees, including three this season.
“It’s obviously a win-win situation,” Minnis said. “I’m just really excited either way. I’m working with one of the best pitching clubs in America, (or), if I go to college, I’m working with one of the best pitching coaches in America.
“So it’s definitely a win-win,” he added. “I’m just enjoying the situation I’m in right now.”
The 2010 draft proved fruitful for a number of local players.
In addition to Minnis, former Free State standout Robby Price, a member of the Kansas University team, was taken in the 13th round Tuesday, and former Firebirds teammate and fellow Jayhawk Travis Blankenship was drafted in the 31st round by the Houston Astros. Lawrence High product and current KU outfielder Brian Heere was selected in the 41st round by the Cleveland Indians.
“There’s been a lot of talk about how it’s a baseball town,” Stoll said of Lawrence. “Both high schools have a lot of good players, and obviously (KU baseball coach Ritch Price) has done a remarkable job at the university. I think there’s a lot of excitement about baseball in the city, and that just speaks to the level of commitment that the players and people in the city put into it.”