Elkview, West Virginia native Grant Buckner graduated this spring from WVU with a degree in multi-disciplinary studies. He finished up his Mountaineer baseball career at the Big East Conference tournament a few weeks back. This week he is sitting at home waiting for a call from one of the 30 Major League baseball organizations.
Baseball’s entry draft starts Monday with the first round and free agent compensation picks. It will continue Tuesday with the picks in rounds two through 30. It concludes Wednesday with picks in rounds 31-50.
Buckner was disappointed after not getting drafted after his junior season. He took it out on Big East Conference opponents this year as he led all hitters with a .437 batting average in the 27 conference games. That mark was 25 points higher than any other player. Interestingly enough, the player that finished second in the league batting race–George Springer of Connecticut–is expected to go in the first round of the draft tonight.
"The anticipation is definitely the hardest part about it," Buckner said Monday as he awaited the start of the draft. "Hopefully, the time is here for me.
"The day I got home at the end of the (college) season I started swinging a wood bat again," Buckner said. "Every single day I’ve been swinging the bat, throwing, working out doing cardio. I’m just trying to stay in shape hoping I get my opportunity."
A plus for Buckner is that he become proficient in playing several different positions in college. He played both corner outfield spots, third base as a junior and shortstop this season.
"At the professional level versatility is a big factor," Buckner said. "I played four positions in four years. I also showed that I can play middle infield this year. That has to add to some value I would imagine."
Some players couldn’t handle the anxiety or uncertainty about if they are going to get picked or not. But for the Buckner family, they are hoping to turn draft day into a celebration.
"I feel like I’ve waited my whole life for this," Buckner said. "I might as well sit through every pick and watch."
Buckner finished his Mountaineer career with the program’s 6th highest career hit total at 232. He finished tied for 4th all time at WVU with 58 doubles. His total of 149 RBI rank him 7th all time.
A couple of other baseball notes;
Two Big East Conference players are expected to get selected Monday in the first round. Both play for Connecticut. Outfielder George Springer and pitcher Matt Barnes both expect to be taken in the top 25 picks.
Barnes and Springer, however, won’t be watching the draft on the MLB network toinght. They’ve got a more pressing matter. UConn is the lone team remaining from the Big East in the NCAA tournament. In fact, when the draft starts at 7 p.m. the Huskies will be underway in the championship game of the Clemson Regional against the host Tigers. It will be a winner take all contest with the victorious team moving on Super Regional play next week.