With ear buds from his I-pod firmly implanted in each lobe, Oakdale High graduate Boone Whiting was a bit confused when his collegiate summer league Santa Barbara Forrester teammates rose to their feet and began shaking his hand on the bus ride to Compton on Tuesday, June 8.
But his bewilderment soon changed to elation as he realized the congratulatory handshakes were in celebration of his selection in the 2010 Major League Baseball first-year player draft.
Whiting, Centenary College school record holder and Summit League Pitcher of the Year, was selected with the 559th overall pick (18th round) by the St. Louis Cardinals.
The selection paved the way for Monday’s official signing inside the Whiting’s Oakdale residence.
“It’s like another step toward your dream,” Whiting said. “I was kind of speechless, and I think that was the most of I have ever smiled in one day.”
Whiting was nabbed by the Cards with 966 picks and another 32 rounds to go in last week’s draft. He had received attention from team scouts who attended his games and sent him questionnaires estimating his interest with signing for an MLB franchise.
Monday’s signing was an easy decision for the NCAA All-American who holds Centenary College records (strikeouts, saves) and has already secured a full-ride scholarship to compete at Gonzaga University.
“I have pretty much done all there is to do in college baseball, aside from winning a college world series,” Whiting said. “I’m ready to take it to the next level.”
That next level will now include a starting pitcher role with the Rookie League Johnson City Cardinals in Tennessee. The team competes in the Appalachian League (APP) Western Division with the Bristol White Sox, Elizabethton Twins, Greeneville Astros and Kingsport Mets.
Last year, Johnson City was second in the APP West at 37-30. The program will look to use Whiting’s expertise to whittle down an earned run average of 4.34 from last season. Only three of the nine other teams in APP West and East had higher ERAs.
“I think the important thing for me right now is to get my control down with a different baseball,” Whiting said, referring to the MLB ball’s different seams and tightness. “The balls slows down and moves more in college and I’m going to have to adjust to the change.”
Whiting’s two younger brothers Blake (11) and Brock (14) compete for the Oakdale Baseball Association while his older brother Bryce (23) is enlisted in the armed forces in Colorado.
His parents are Oakdale residents Jeff and Yvonne Whiting.
“This whole thing is kind of bittersweet for mom and dad,” Whiting said. “On one hand they are happy for me, but on the other they don’t like to see me leave.”