DENAIR — A scout from the Milwaukee Brewers said it might happen like this.
Phone calls galore.
Text message overload.
In his ultimate draft-day moment on Wednesday morning, Bradin Hagens looked more like a telephone operator than a prized pitching prospect.
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The Merced College sophomore had scouts from the Diamondbacks on one line and the Brewers on the other.The chirp from his cell phone told him that the White Sox were also interested in the cagey right-handed pitcher.
“I was just sitting there, waiting and being patient, not really worrying about getting called or drafted,” Hagens said.And then...
His LG Voyager, a touch-screen phone, went haywire: chirping, buzzing and ringing off the hook.
“We’re looking at you for the sixth round,” a Diamondbacks representative asked. “Do you want to sign?”
“We want you in the sixth round,” a Brewers scout said. “You in?”
“Bradin,” read White Sox scout Adam Virchis’ message, “will sixth-round money plus school work?”
“At that point, I’m thinking it’s coming down to the wire,” Hagens said. “And then you hear your name. ... Hearing your name is just awesome.”
The Diamondbacks won the Hagens sweepstakes on Wednesday, selecting the Blue Devil ace in the sixth round with the 186th overall pick.
Though terms of his contract or signing bonus have yet to be discussed, Hagens said his signability hinges on two factors: a fair signing bonus and money to finish his bachelor’s degree.
He has until Aug. 17 to work out a deal with the Diamondbacks.
“I think it’s been a dream of his for a few years now to get to this point,” Merced College skipper Chris Pedretti said.
“I think he realizes it’s a step in the process. The ultimate goal is to make it to the major leagues and to stay there, and this is a step along that path.”
Hagens, who committed to Oklahoma State in the fall, wasn’t completely shocked by the selection. He was drafted last June by the Royals in the 37th round and was projected to be a fourth- through seventh-round selection this time around.
The real surprise was the suitor: the Diamondbacks.
He had no clue.
Hagens had worked out with only one West Coast team in the weeks leading up to the draft.
He threw bullpens for the Rays, Mets, Orioles and Mariners.
“I think that’s the best part — it’s a West Coast team. I get to stay local,” said Hagens, who celebrated the moment with his mother and father, Terri and Carl.
“(The scout) said he’d come out and watched me a lot. He said he tried to keep me under his hat. He didn’t want others to know that he was interested.
“He wanted to sneak pick me.”
Hagens wasn’t much of a draft-time secret.
The unequivocal ace of the Blue Devils’ staff, Hagens amassed a 9-1 record with a 3.77 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 88.1 innings this past season.
Scarier yet: He’s got room to grow.
Hagens has a plus fastball with movement. His heater, clocked at 93 mph, breaks in on right-handed hitters.“Talking with scouts the last two years, they like the movement on his fastball,” Pedretti said. “But they think he has big upside.“He’s shown the makings of a good slider and changeup. These are pitches he still has to develop. Once he does, though, he has a chance to make it all the way.”
The Hagen family marked the occasion just as they’ve done with all of his baseball successes, from Little League to Merced College: hug from mom, “attaboy” from Dad.
“I gave up cartwheels a few years ago,” Carl Hagens quipped.
“We’ve been waiting awhile on this. You always hope and dream that it would be possible.”
James Burns is sports editor of the Sun-Star. He can be reached at email@example.com.