Mississippi State junior pitcher Chris Stratton was selected by the San Francisco Giants with the 20th overall pick of the Major League Draft tonight.
Stratton, a Tupelo native, is the first Bulldog drafted in the first round since 2003, when Paul Maholm went eighth overall to Pittsburgh. Stratton is the ninth MSU player in history to go in Round 1.
“Baseball is a game, and jus thet fact anybody would consider me in the first round is a blessing in itself,” Stratton said.
The slot value for the 20th pick is $1,850,000. We don’t know yet whether Stratton will sign, but he’s expected to.
“We still haven’t negotiated anything, but i’m looking forward to the negotiations,” said Stratton, who will be represented by Bo McKinnis.
After a struggling sophomore year, Stratton saw his stock skyrocket this past season. He went 11-2 with a 2.38 ERA, striking out 127 batters against 25 walks in 109 2/3 innings of work. Stratton was named the SEC pitcher of the year and is a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award.
“People mature at different ages and at different times. It was Chris’ time, and that’s pretty good timing for your junior year for everything to come into focus,” MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson said.
Stratton struck out 17 batters against LSU in 8 2/3 innings earlier this year, with plenty of scouting directors and such looking on. Thompson thought that was a defining moment for Stratton, who didn’t strike out that many again but became a more efficient pitcher.
“It helped his season, which is great,” said Thompson. “More than that it’s going to help his career, by learning efficiency and learning how to trust his stuff, and actually learning how to get hit. Meaning, try to get some batters to move their barrels in the first three pitches, produce some soft contact, and letting the defense behind him play.”
Stratton said he first spoke with San Francisco scout Hugh Walker at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. Walker told Stratton he’d seen that LSU game.
“i said, ‘That was a good one to be at,'” Stratton said.
Stratton was the ninth pitcher taken tonight, the second from the SEC. The first pitcher drafted was LSU right-hander Kevin Gausman, at No. 4 overall to Baltimore.