One was going through pregame preparations for a Prospect League matchup, another was playing Call of Duty online with a teammate, and the third was attending his brother’s baseball game. They all got the same news: each had been selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
The Chicago White Sox picked sophomore infielder Ethan Wilson in the 25th round and senior outfielder Michael Earley in the 29th round on Tuesday, and the Florida Marlins drafted senior pitcher Chris Squires in the 37th round on Wednesday.
“I was at my brother’s game when I heard the news,” Earley said. “I hugged my dad, called my mom. It was a really good moment that I’ve been waiting for a long time.”
Earley, who was wearing a New York Yankees shirt when he got the call and immediately turned it inside out, was expected to be an attractive prospect for professional teams after hitting behind IU’s sophomore Big Ten Player of the Year Alex Dickerson in the batting order.
Protecting Dickerson, Earley drove in 40 runs, hit 13 homers and batted .352 in 51 games played. The outfielder committed just two errors for a .975 fielding average.
For Wilson and Earley, being selected by the White Sox might just be a matter of continuation.
“I’ve played against and with Ethan since I was about 14,” Anderson, Ind., native Earley said. “Then I got a chance to play with him in college. It’s pretty rare that two guys who grew up together get to go play college ball together, let alone pro ball. I was really excited to see him picked, and once I came soon after I got even more excited.”
Wilson, whose selection was somewhat of a surprise, was warming up for the Richmond, Ind., River Rats — his summer league team for collegiate players — when his coaches called him in from the field to deliver the news.
“The whole day during the game, I just couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s selection marked the eleventh of now 13 total players who have been drafted from IU coach Tracy Smith’s teams during his five-year tenure at the University. Last season, seven Hoosiers went to the draft.
“We didn’t really see that one coming thanks to all of the injuries he had and the limited playing time,” Smith said of Wilson. “But it’s a good thing for him, and it’s a good thing for his family.”
Wilson, from Pendleton, Ind., missed all but five games a year ago after a season-ending foot injury left him taking a medical redshirt. This season, though, he picked up
where he left off after a strong freshman season and batted .298 with seven home runs and 24 RBI. Wilson started 25 games in the infield and finished with a .964 fielding percentage.
Wilson will have until Aug. 16 to decide whether or not to sign with the White Sox or return to IU for his junior season. Earley and Squires both have no remaining collegiate eligibility.
“(Wilson) has been injured ever since he has been at IU, and sometimes that keeps kids from playing pro ball,” Smith said. “My recommendation is, ‘Hey, this is your chance at pro ball. Go do it.’”
Squires’ selection by the Marlins became a game of wait and see, with the waiting part starting to wear thin on the Hoosiers’ all-time career saves leader before his name was called Wednesday. Squires had been playing a Call of Duty video game with Hoosier teammate Tyler Rogers before he checked the draft results and saw his name.
“It was definitely hard to wait through,” Squires said. “The first day was easy to wait through. The second day got hard, and then the start of (Wednesday) was getting even harder.”
Squires recorded nine saves in 2010 with a 4.31 ERA and finished with the all-time record of 20 saves and 89 appearances.
“I’m just so glad that somebody stepped up to give me the opportunity to go play, to show them what I can do,” Squires