A future major-league career may or may not be in the offing, but at least for one day some southwest suburban players drew the attention of pro baseball teams.
Major League Baseball’s annual amateur draft took place last week and counted among the first 67 picks was Orland Park native Sam Travis. A Providence Catholic alumnus and junior at Indiana University, Travis was chosen by Boston in the second round.
He was at his house watching the draft on the MLB Network with a few family members when he received a phone call from an area scout notifying him of the Red Sox’s intention to select him.
“It’s a dream come true [and] I’m very excited,” Travis said. “It’s going to be very exciting to hopefully someday play in one of the most historic ballparks at Fenway.”
Travis said he’ll forgo his senior season at IU and join the Red Sox organization. In 2011, Travis was drafted out of high school by Cincinnati in the 40th round after helping Providence place second in Class 4A, but he felt more comfortable enrolling at IU instead of turning professional.
“At the time, I thought I needed to mature as a person and mature as a player and work on getting a good education,” Travis said. “Looking back now I don’t regret that decision.”
The 6-foot, 210-pound first baseman was a unanimous choice as Big Ten Player of the Year this spring after batting .347 with 12 homers, 58 RBI, 55 runs and eight stolen bases in 13 attempts. Travis fielded his position at a .997 clip.
“I grew more than I expected, that’s for sure,” Travis said. “I wouldn’t trade [my time at Indiana] for the world. Indiana was an unbelievable experience and made me the man I am today.”
Travis’ coach at Providence, Mark Smith, spoke highly of him and said Travis had all the tools even as a prep athlete.
“He was a complete player, an intense kid [but] very modest,” Smith said. “[He] just went about his business [and] played the game the way you want all your kids to play. He was the best high school hitter I’d ever seen.”
Two other players with ties to Providence, pitchers Matt Trowbridge and Jake Godfrey, were also draftees. Trowbridge, who just completed his junior year at Central Michigan University, was tabbed in the 13th round (391st overall) by Baltimore, while 2014 Celtic Godfrey was a 21st-round pick (643rd overall) by Atlanta.
Godfrey had committed earlier to Louisiana State University and may still opt for that destination.
Palos Heights native and former St. Laurence pitcher Zach Lewis was chosen by Pittsburgh in the 33rd round (1,001st overall) after his freshman year at Wabash Valley Junior College. In his initial collegiate campaign, Lewis went 11-0 with a 1.84 earned-run average and 93 strikeouts in 88 innings.
Two St. Rita products also will begin minor-league careers. University of Texas center fielder Mark Payton was actually selected for the third time — he previously turned down contract offers from Minnesota (31st round) in 2010 and Cleveland (16th) in 2013.
As a Longhorns senior, Payton hit .326 with 38 RBI, 32 runs and 19 stolen bases. Defensively, he posted a .994 fielding percentage. Those statistics made him attractive enough for the New York Yankees to use their seventh-round pick (212th overall) on him.
University of Louisville pitcher Joe Filomeno was a 15th-round selection (456th overall) by Texas.