By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Lex Rutledge’s dream is to play professional baseball, but he’s willing to wait until the price is right.
The Tupelo High left-handed pitcher with a 90 mph fastball was selected 796th overall Wednesday by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 26th round of the Major League Baseball draft.
Rutledge, who has signed with Samford, was hoping for a second or third round selection and the usual hefty bonuses that come with those signings.
“I was contacted by the Brewers and several other clubs the night of the draft,” he said. “I told them I wasn’t going to sign if I went past the third round.”
The St. Louis Cardinals contacted the 17-year-old Golden Wave star prior to the fourth round and asked him if he’d consider signing if they selected him that round.
“I discussed it with my dad and we decided to tell St. Louis ‘No,’ because we didn’t want them to lose such a high pick if I didn’t sign,” said Rutledge.
The Brewers plan to follow their draft pick closely this summer when he pitches for his American Legion team, the Tupelo 49ers.
“They said they would follow me, and if they think I’m worth what I’d like, they might sign me,” Rutledge said.
The signing deadline is Aug. 15.
Rutledge, who was 4-2 with a 2.07 earned run average and 72 strikeouts for the Golden Wave this season, says he remains undecided on whether to pursue a pro career or go to college.
“It’s iffy,” he said. “Some days I’m all for pro ball and have no desire to go to college. It’s always been my dream and goal to play pro baseball. If I get the opportunity I really want to go.”
However, “There’s been a lot of pressure put on me concerning pro ball and I’m beginning to feel I might need the college experience.”
Either way, Rutledge says it’s a “huge honor” to be drafted.
“I want to play pro baseball one day,” he said. “Maybe now’s not the time.”