published Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Draft dreams realized: Local players picked by MLB franchises

Hunter Adkins
Hunter Adkins
  • photo
    Sam Eberle.
    Staff File Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Hunter Adkins, the former Red Bank pitcher, and Sam Eberle, the ex-Notre Dame catcher, were at opposite ends of the spectrum both during and after the final day of major league baseball's annual player draft.

Adkins was sound asleep when his name was called in the 18th round by the Milwaukee Brewers and Eberle was watching on his computer when the Giants selected him in the in the 25th round.

"My mom heard it and came running up the stairs screaming. It was definitely a good way to wake up," Adkins said.

"I was watching the ticker on the Internet, and just as they said my name a Giants scout called," Eberle said.

And while Adkins, a junior right-handed pitcher at MTSU, mulls over a decision on whether to sign or return to school for his senior year, Eberle, a senior catcher, third baseman and outfielder, has already signed his contract.

The Jacksonville State standout is flying to Arizona on Sunday where he'll take a physical and go through several days of workouts before the club decides whether he'll play rookie ball or go to the team's short-season club in Salem, Ore.

Meanwhile, Lee University players had a fruitful day. A school-record five Flames were selected during the draft with pitchers Patrick Merkling (Marlins), Andy Hills (Cardinals) and Vince Spilker (Diamondbacks) and catcher Jorge Saez (Blue Jays) joining pitcher Kris Hall, who was selected by the Athletics on Tuesday.

Tennessee Wesleyan also had two players chosen on Wednesday -- pitchers Jeremy Fitzgerald (Braves) and Levi Dean (Mariners).

Hall went in the eighth round, Merkling in the 18th round, Spilker the 25th, Hillis the 29th and Saez in the 38th. Fitzgerald was taken in the 21st round and Dean in the 23rd.

Adkins was told by a Brewers representative that someone from their organization would be in contact with him in the next 24-48 hours. But Adkins, unlike Eberle, has leverage. He could decide to return to MTSU next season.

"My education has been a big goal for my family and me, and we only lose three guys from this year's [MTSU] team so we could be pretty good next year," he said.

He thought his draft chances were over Tuesday when a Royals scout called during the 10th round but then didn't take him.

"I was surprised. I didn't expect anybody to draft me," Adkins said.

Eberle, on the other hand, felt if anybody drafted him it would be the Giants.

"I wasn't shocked, but it's always surprising to hear your name called," he said. "But the Giants had kept in contact with me the most."

A scout emailed Eberle a contract -- what he called terms of agreement -- shortly after he was drafted.

"I signed the papers and faxed them back to him so he could get my flight set up," he said.

In other Major League draft news

• Lee signee Gabriel Roa, a shortstop who just finished at Wabash Valley College in Mt. Carmel, Ill., was selected in the 25th round by the Texas Rangers.

n Jacob Lee, who was born in Chattanooga and spent much of his youth living in Brainerd, was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the ninth round out of Arkansas State. Lee, whose mother, Connie, still lives in Chattanooga, was named the Sun Belt Conference pitcher of the year this season.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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