Justin Jones had been told to expect the call Wednesday morning, but the warning did nothing to temper his excitement when the phone rang.
"It was the White Sox, calling to say they were drafting me," the Oakdale High graduate said. "When I hung up the phone, I went straight to the computer. Just as I turned it on, I heard my name called."
Chicago, one of a handful of teams scouting the lefty during his senior year, had told Jones to expect a call between the third and 10th rounds.
The White Sox were true to their word, selecting Jones in the seventh round of Major League Baseball's first-year player draft. The three-day draft will conclude today.
Jones was one of four players with Stanislaus District connections picked on Day 2, and they were all pitchers:
Former Pitman High star Bradin Hagens, Merced College's ace this season, was selected in the sixth-round by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Stanislaus State's Dakota Watts, a junior who led the Warriors in wins and strikeouts, went to the Minnesota Twins in the 16th round.
Dylan Floro, a four-year varsity hurler for Buhach Colony, was taken by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 20th round.
Combined with the two college hitters selected in Tuesday's second round -- Tommy Mendonca (Turlock, Fresno State) and Blake Smith (Downey, Cal) -- six district players have been selected.
Jones and Floro began this spring as the district's most prominent prep pitchers, and they improved their reputations each time they pitched.
The 6-foot-3-inch, 175-pound Jones was 11-1 with a 0.42 as a senior, after going 11-0 as a junior. He struck out 118 hitters in 66 innings, and scouts routinely flocked to see him.
Adam Virchis, a Modesto-based scout for the White Sox, was often in that group.
"They wanted to know if I'd sign, because I had a letter of intent with Cal," Jones said.
That gives Jones a couple of options: He could sign with the White Sox or go to college. Or, he says, he could do both.
"Signing will likely depend on two things: The money being offered and having my college education paid for," said Jones, noting baseball has a fund that pays for players to go to school. "If I sign, I'll go to college after the season. After I'm done playing baseball, I'd like to become a teacher."
The size of the bonus that Jones might expect? That's a moving target once the draft goes beyond the fifth round. Teams barter, based on their desire to get a player in their minor-league system immediately and whether a player is genuine about his desire to attend a college and play ball.
Second-round picks earned an average of $400,000 each in 2008 -- that's the round that Smith and Mendonca were selected -- but the figure falls fast in the ensuing rounds.
The White Sox would like to see Jones add a few pounds in hopes that it will add zip to a fastball that runs 87 to 89 miles per hour on a good day.
"I think I have a curve that can compete with players at the next level, but my changeup needs work," Jones said.
His parents, Rosemarie and Stan, saw their son blossom into the district's top player as a senior -- he was named The Bee's Player of the Year.
Floro was a finalist for that honor, as well, going 7-1 with a 0.46 ERA. The right-hander struck out 109 in 61 innings.
Baseball America projected he could go in the top 200 or so players, but being taken at No. 619 didn't bother Floro.
"The waiting sucked. That was the worst part," said Floro, who was washing his truck when the Rays called.
Floro said he won't make a decision on whether to sign with the Rays or attend Cal State Fullerton -- he signed a letter of intent with the school -- until later in the summer.
"I'm happy with either situation," Floro said. "They're both pretty good situations."
Watts has options, too, with a year of eligibility left. Being drafted was not just a dream for him but his father, too.
"My dad was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers, and he's always been there to support me," said Watts, who went to Oroville High and Delta College before coming to Stanislaus. "He always told me that you have to work hard to get what you want. He's right."
A starter since high school, he has heard from the Twins that they're looking at him as a reliever, possibly a closer.
"They wanted a power arm and they said there were not a lot of those in Northern California this year," Watts said. "My fastball is typically 92 to 95. (Stanislaus coach Kenny) Leonesio taught me a slider, because I need a third pitch I can throw for a strike. I need some polish, but I'm ready."
Watts said the Twins have a reputation for moving players quickly through the minor leagues, should they warrant the rapid advancement.
"The size of the signing bonus is important, but what I also like is the Twins will give me an opportunity to advance," the 6-5 Watts said. "Some clubs are slow moving you up, but Minnesota likes to see you challenged. The opportunity, that's important."
Hagens had a busy morning, as well, receiving calls from three big-league teams.
The Brewers and White Sox were as interested in the sophomore as the Diamondbacks.
""I was sitting there, waiting and being patient, not really worrying about getting called or drafted," he said.
And just as quickly his LG Voyager, a touch-screen phone, began chirping, buzzing and ringing off the hook.
"We're looking at you for the sixth round," Arizona asked. "Do you want to sign?"
"We want you in the sixth round," the Brewers said. "You in?"
"Bradin," read a message from Virchis, the White Sox scout, "will sixth-round money plus school work?"
"At that point, I'm thinking it's coming down to the wire," Hagens said. "Then you hear your name. Hearing your name is just awesome."
Though terms of his contract or signing bonus have yet to be discussed, Hagens said his signability hinges on two factors: a fair bonus and money to finish his degree.
Like all players who have eligibility remaining, he has until Aug. 17 to work out a deal with the Diamondbacks.
Hagens, who has signed with Oklahoma State, was drafted last June by the Royals in the 37th round and was projected to go in the fourth through seventh this year.
"I think that's the best part -- it's a West Coast team. I get to stay local," Hagens said.
Hagens, who went 7-1 with an 0.75 ERA as a senior at Pitman in 2007, has a plus fastball with movement. Clocked at 93 mph, it also will break in on the right-handed hitters.
The Merced Sun-Star contributed to this report.