published Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Stephens hopes for call in MLB draft

Zach Stephens is a candidate to be taken in MLB draft.
Zach Stephens is a candidate to be taken in MLB draft.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

MLB draft order

1. Houston Astros

2. Miami Marlins

3. Chicago White Sox

4. Chicago Cubs

5. Minnesota Twins

6. Seattle Mariners

7. Philadelphia Phillies

8. Colorado Rockies

9. Toronto Blue Jays

10. New York Mets

11. Toronto Blue Jays

12. Milwaukee Brewers

13. San Diego Padres

14. San Francisco Giants

15. Los Angeles Angels

16. Arizona Diamondbacks

17. Kansas City Royals

18. Washington Nationals

19. Cincinnati Reds

20. Tampa Bay Rays

21. Cleveland Indians

22. Los Angeles Dodgers

23. Detroit Tigers

24. Pittsburgh Pirates

25. Oakland Athletics

26. Boston Red Sox

27. St. Louis Cardinals

28. Kansas City Royals

29. Cincinnati Reds

30. Texas Rangers

31. Cleveland Indians

32. Atlanta Braves

33. Boston Red Sox

34. St. Louis Cardinals

MLB Draft schedule

Today

7 p.m. -- Round 1, compensation round A, Round 2, compensation round B.

Friday

1 p.m. -- Rounds 3-10

Saturday

1 p.m. -- Rounds 11-40

There wasn't time Wednesday afternoon for Zach Stephens to slip away to a batting cage or even a weight room.

The former four-time Best of Preps baseball team member was putting the finishing touches to an online summer semester homework assignment.

There was no research, not even a peek at the latest rankings for collegiate senior first baseman, on Major League Baseball's three-day player draft.

The draft starts at 6 this evening and concludes Saturday afternoon.

It is Saturday that the draft will likely draw the most attention from Stephens, who just put the finishing touches on a four-year starting career at Tennessee Tech, and other no-other-option college seniors.

"I'm going to try to treat [the next three days] like just another day. If it happens, it happens," Stephens said. "If it doesn't, life goes on. I'll go finish school and then look for a job."

It sounds easy but the major league draft and a shot at the big leagues is really what Stephens has played for since he was a 4-year-old.

"That's the goal," the Ohio Valley Conference record-holder said. "Everybody wants to play pro ball, and I definitely do, but you're basically sitting there hoping that phone call comes and somebody telling you that you've been drafted."

The 6-foot, 220-pounder knows the disappointment of the phone not ringing, having suffered through it following his junior year.

"It can be disappointing. This time last year I knew I had another year to prove myself, but I think personally it would have been good to get drafted as a junior," he said.

Stephens leaves Tennessee Tech and the OVC as the career leader in home runs, RBIs and total bases. He was two shy of the league's career standard for doubles.

"It went fast. It seems like just the other day I was a freshman," he said.

That should be proof enough for major league teams, Soddy-Daisy coach Jared Hensley observed.

"He was good his junior year -- 13 home runs and a good year offensively," Hensley said. "In the summer between his [high school] junior and senior years [Trojans assistant Jamie Tricoglou] and I talked with him about playing Division I. He could do it but he needed to work body-wise. He changed his eating and workout habits and hit extremely well the next season including 17 home runs."

Yet it is more than the power Stephens exhibited.

"He's extremely gifted when he swings the bat, but he was unheralded as a defensive first baseman and his work ethic and his ability to lead the team were remarkable," Hensley said.

Teams and scouts that showed the most interest included Boston, Colorado, San Diego, San Francisco, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Minnesota and the New York Yankees.

"I've always been a Braves fan and I'm still a Braves fan, but I never heard anything from them. No, I don't have any preferences. I just want somebody to give me a chance," he said.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.

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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