A year ago, Reagan Biechler of Pine Creek learned firsthand how the Major League Baseball June Amateur Draft can alter one's plans.
He played alongside right-handed, flame-throwing pitcher Ryan Warner, who had signed a national letter of intent to attend college and play baseball at North Carolina State. But when the Colorado Rockies drafted Warner with a third-round supplemental pick and offered a $363,700 signing bonus to put off college, Warner followed his big-league dreams.
Biecher, also a left-handed pitcher, doesn't expect anything close to that, if anything at all, when this year's draft starts Thursday. By the end of last year's three-day draft, the 30 MLB teams selected more than 1,200 players spanning 40 rounds.
"It would take a lot of money to go to pro ball," said Biechler, who plans on studying pre-med at Wichita State, along with pitching for its renowned baseball program, which won the 1989 College World Series. "There were a couple of teams who were asking me how much I would take. If my name gets called, it'll be really cool, but most likely, I will not take it. I'm really looking forward to college."
Biechler received quite the shock, no pun intended, at the news Tuesday that longtime Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson, who with 1,837 career victories ranks second among Division I coaches, was fired after 36 years in the dugout for the Shockers.
"It's very sad to see him go, and I would love to have played for him," Biechler said. "I mean, he is a legend. On the bright side, coach (Brent) Kemnitz is staying as their pitching coach, which was one of the main reasons I chose to go there."
Biechler enjoyed a dominant season at Pine Creek, going 8-2 with a 1.61 ERA, recording 87 strikeouts in 52 ? innings. At the plate, the left-handed batter hit .478 with five home runs, 20 RBIs and 10 doubles.