He couldn’t help feeling nervous.
His advisor told him to expect to be drafted sometime between the seventh and 10th rounds, but now it was the ninth round and Caleb Baragar’s name had still not been called.
Then his advisor said he was working on something with the San Francisco Giants.
When he heard his mom scream from the other room, he looked at his computer to see his name pop up next to the Giants’ name.
“My advisor said probably somewhere between seven and 10, so I was really hoping I’d get called Friday and was thankful that it happened,” Baragar said. “As time kind of ticked away I was thinking maybe it wasn’t going to happen, it wasn’t meant to be.”
Baragar was the first IU player drafted this year after winning four games in his senior season, but still posting a 2.49 ERA, the best among IU’s starters.
This came after winning one game with a 3.47 ERA during his junior season, his first in Bloomington.
“I think I’m a lot more polished with my game than I was last year,” Baragar said. “I’m a lot more consistent too.”
That was the biggest difference, Baragar said. He’s able to be more or less the same pitcher each time he takes the mound.
In his junior year, it was almost like Jekyll and Hyde when he took the mound, he said.
Some days, he would have his best stuff and have no problem working deep into games.
Others, his location, velocity and movement were off, and there was nothing he could do to fix it.
“It was like whichever Caleb goes out there that’s what we’re going to get for the whole game,” Baragar said. “I wasn’t learning to pitch, I was more just throwing and hoping everything would go well. I think that’s what I gained the most from this year.”
From the time when an area scout from the Giants first contacted him at the end of the fall semester, to when the same area scout contacted him at the end of the season, Baragar was nearly a different pitcher.
His improvements were on display this spring for the scouts to see.
Even on days he wasn’t pitching great, he was still going deep into games and limiting damage.
He said he still doesn’t know what the Giants’ plan for him is, but imagines he’ll be a starter since that’s where all his experience is.
But he also said he knows he needs to improve, just like he did before his senior season.
Baragar said he wants to develop his split fastball more and actually learn how to throw a cutter instead of letting one loose every once in a while on accident.
“I cut some fastballs this spring on accident and it seemed to be a pretty effective pitch,” Baragar said. “I’m going to try and figure out how to do that so I can have my natural fastball and something that does the opposite.”
Within a week or a week and a half, Baragar will report to the Giants’ spring training facility in Arizona for a physical, and then maybe play for the organization’s rookie ball team.
Even though he had to endure a few anxious moments Friday, Baragar can now call himself a professional baseball player.
“It was stressful for sure because I wanted to go so bad and I’ve worked my whole life for it,” Baragar said. “It was stressful, but at the end of the day I guess it could have been worse.”
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