Wesley Rodriguez needed a distraction as the wait to find out his baseball future dragged on longer than expected.
The George Washington fireballer and Morris Heights native stepped away from following the draft to shoot some hoops with friends. Baseball was supposed to be the last thing on his mind for a few hours.
“I needed to not think about things, relax,” Rodriguez said.
Instead during that time Rodriguez’s phone finally range. His name was called.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Rodriguez, a pitcher and third baseman, was projected to go in the top five round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Instead he was selected in the 12th round and 346th overall on the third day of the draft last week. Rodriguez was surprised by how far he had dropped, but was happy to have his dream of being drafted fulfilled. He took a moment to let it all sink in.
“It was like a moment of silence,” Rodriguez said. “Then it really hit me.”
During the wait he said his family stood by him and told him to keep his head up and to stay confident that things were going to turn out well. Rodriquez, who is committed to Pittsburgh, was a bit antsy at the PSAL Wingate dinner on the first day of the draft. He was constantly checking his phone, while waiting to be honored as the league’s best senior student-athlete in his sport.
“It’s a blessing to say I am going to get drafted, but the wait is crazy,“ Rodriguez said.
He had not signed with the Diamondbacks heading into this week. Rodriguez said after the Mayor’s Cup all-star game last Sunday that his camp is still negotiating with the club.
“Hopefully I can become a Diamondback if everything goes well,” he said.
Rodriguez was the best player in New York City this season. He batted .673 in league play, smashed six home runs and drove in 33 runs. On the mound he went 5-0 while striking out 56 batters and walking just three in 25 innings of work.
Rodriguez, who was clocked as high as 98 mph on the radar gun, had MLB scouts following him all season. There was one from every team, including Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski, watching him strike out 16 batters as the Trojans won the Monroe tournament title.
George Washington coach Steve Mandl called him the best two-way players he’s ever coached and among his top three hitters along with former MLB All-Star Manny Ramirez. Rodriguez saw his velocity dip later in the season, but he was still effective. He scored the winning run and came on with two on and one away to get the final out of George Washington’s 1-0 win over Tottenville in the PSAL title game.
“He just does everything,” Mandl said. “He is intelligent. He has an approach. He has tremendous power. He goes to the opposite field. He knows what he is doing there, but with a golden arm they are probably going to take him as a pitcher.”
The selection took longer than expected, but the feeling was still the same after the expectation of it all season.
“It was like a weight off my shoulder, like a building came off my shoulder,” Rodriguez said. “It’s crazy. The feeling is amazing.”