Published 12:00 am Friday, June 8, 2007
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY ó Charlotte 49er pitcher Spencer Steedley always followed catcher Kris Rochelle’s lead, and the second day of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft was no exception.
Rochelle was picked in the 22nd round by the Detroit Tigers on Friday. Not long after that, Rochelle was phoning Steedley, who was at his parents’ house. Steedley was watching television, trying to keep his mind off the draft.
“Kris tells me, ‘Congratulations!’ Steedley said. “I said, ‘For what.’ Kris was watching the draft on the computer, and he told me I’d just been picked by Minnesota. A few minutes after I talked to Kris, the Twins called.’ ”
Charlotte’s ace, Adam Mills, was picked on the eighth round by the Boston Red Sox.
Steedley was taken on the 25th round. He was the 782nd player chosen.
“It was a real long day, I guess, trying not to think about it,” Steedley said. “But the Twins got me, and I’m fine with that. They’re one of the teams that called Friday morning and asked me a few questions.”
The 25th round means there won’t be a ton of bonus money. But there will be an opportunity to play pro ball, and that’s been Steedley’s dream since the first time he picked up a glove.
The 2003 East Rowan graduate anticipates signing quickly and reporting to the Twins complex in Fort Myers, Fla., by Tuesday. The Twins have a rookie-level team in Fort Myers that will compete in the short-season Gulf Coast League. Another Twins farm team, stocked with draftees, will crank up in Elizabethton, Tenn., in the Appalachian League. Steedley will likely be assigned to one of those teams.The next step up the Twins chain is the Beloit (Wisc.) Snappers in the Class A Midwest League. Steedley’s played in Wisconsin before. He toiled for the Madison Mallards in a summer wood bat league.
As always, the 22-year-old’s versatility is both a blessing and a curse. He’s proficient as a lefty hitter and as a southpaw pitcher. Baseball America lists him on the Twins draft board as a pitcher/outfielder.
“I really don’t know, and the Twins haven’t said yet, so maybe I’ll still pitch and hit,” Steedley said. “I really hope so, but I’ll do whatever they decide to do with me.”
Steedley, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, was the first 49er to make all-conference as a pitcher and hitter. He was an All-Atlantic 10 slugger as a junior when he enjoyed 19 multi-hit games and led the league in five categories.
He had modest offensive numbers as a senior but had a breakout season as a pitcher. He was 8-2 with a 3.05 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 112 innings.
Steedley was one of the top two-way players in Rowan County Legion history. He ranks third all-time with 23 homers and fourth in RBIs with 149. On the mound, he won 17 Legion games and struck out 174 batters.
Steedley’s father, Derry, was a .415 career hitter for the Legion team. Spencer’s brother, Ross, is one of the current team’s standouts and is headed to Charlotte in the fall.
Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or email@example.com.