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Wednesday was a big day for Barton College senior baseball player Trent Fennell, but Monday will be huge.
Mid-afternoon Wednesday, Fennell, a right-handed pitcher, was informed he had been drafted in the 24th round of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft by the Colorado Rockies of the National League’s West Division.
On Monday morning, Fernell will fly to Grand Junction, Colorado, to sign and accept his first professional assignment with the Rockies’ Rookie League team in Grand Junction.
“It’s been a long day, nerve-wracking,” Fennell commented in a telephone interview Wednesday evening. “I waited a long time, but something happened and it turned out great.”
Fennell proclaims himself in top physical and mental condition and declares as the result of extensive training upon the conclusion of his collegiate career.
He was unsure of the signing amount, explaining: “I’m a (college) senior and I don’t have leverage. I don’t expect I’ll get much and I will find out how much when I get there.”
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Fennell landed with the Rockies after working out with the Minnesota Twins and Philadelphia Phillies this summer and being contacted by 18 of the 30 major league teams.
Indications surfaced that Fennell might be selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks or New York Yankees in the 23rd round. That situation did not materialize, and Fennell heard from the Rockies on Wednesday morning. Several hours passed and he was again contacted by the Diamondbacks and Yankees before learning Colorado grabbed him as the 726th selection.
“It’s been a long day,” the 22-year-old Fennell assured. “But I am really excited and glad to have the opportunity, for sure.”
Fennell becomes Barton’s first draft pick since Kramer Sneed in 2010.
In his senior season as the staff ace in the first year of head coach Jim Chester, Fennell paced the Bulldogs with six victories (five losses), two complete games and 99 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings. He issued 30 walks and posted a 5.24 ERA.
Fennell suffered through one of the least successful seasons in Bulldogs’ history. The final record was 12-36.
“It was a tough year for all of us,” Fennell said. “We didn’t get the results we wanted, but I enjoyed my senior year and I loved the guys to death. Coach Chester helped me a lot (in making new professional contacts). I’m happy with the way by Barton career went.”
Fennell, who pitched four years for the Bulldogs, was proclaimed NCAA Division II All-Conference Carolinas each of his last two seasons and twice during the 2018 campaign was tabbed the league’s pitcher of the week.
“I’ve had a few draft guys,” Chester reflected. “When I got the job here, I heard there was professional interest in him. I talked with him one-on-one and he answered all the questions well and handled the situation great.”
The upside for Fennell, said Chester, includes: high character, outstanding demeanor for handling a professional baseball career, getting better every year, very coachable, listens and self-made _ he was not one that had to be pushed or reeled in.
Fennell’s velocity of 92 to 94 miles per hour attracted scouts and Fennell noted he once reached 95 during a bullpen session. The lanky right-hander went from primarily throwing a fastball and breaking pitch to developing a slider and change-up.
Chester pointed out he would not have been surprised if Fennell had been drafted a couple of rounds earlier or even a couple rounds later.
Fennell revealed three organizations spoke of him as a “money-saver” selection in the first 10 rounds and, if not, he would like be chosen on the draft’s day 3 — which was the case.
“It’s a crapshoot,” Chester reasoned. “You never know what a team’s needs are.”
Barton’s head coach said he chatted with Fennell at length Tuesday and immediately heard from him after he got the word at approximately 3 p.m. Wednesday.
“He’s ecstatic,” Chester remarked. “I think he’s going to go play pro baseball.”
“I’m ready to go throw,” Fennell expressed.