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Phillies select Clovis grad Greenwalt in 20th round

 

June 9, 2019

LCU Athletics

Keaton Greenwalt was drafted Wednesday by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 20th round of the MLB Draft.

CLOVIS — The first time Keaton Greenwalt talked with a Major League Baseball scout, he figured there was an outside chance he could be drafted. But he just put his head down and went back to work on the diamond at Lubbock Christian University.

It gets harder to ignore by the 12th time.

“I really tried not to think about it,” Greenwalt said. “But coming towards the end of this year, and getting some looks, I realized it might be a possibility.”

Now it’s a reality. Greenwalt was selected Wednesday in the 20th round by the Philadelphia Phillies, who chose him with the No. 600 overall pick.

Greenwalt started all 52 games for the Chaps (35-17) last season, batting .361 with eight homers and 42 RBIs. He had an OPS of 1.002, with a .580 slugging percentage and a .422 on-base percentage.

That’s improved from the .289 he hit as a sophomore, though his power numbers were similar with seven homers and 30 RBIs. Greenwalt figures as long as he can hit, he’ll have a chance to get to Philadelphia — or another major league city, should he be a prospect throw-in on a trade.

“Coming out of high school, I wasn’t the best hitter,” Greenwalt said. “I didn’t have the best power. Getting to LCU got me bigger and stronger, and I was able to incorporate the long ball into my game.”

When Greenwalt signed with LCU — the only school that had to that point offered him a scholarship — in November 2015, he was a 6-foot-2, 170-pound shortstop. He leaves the Chaps as a 6-foot-4, 190-pound centerfielder who’s just as much a threat to homer as he is to steal a base.

“After the work Keaton had put in over the last three years after leaving here — he grew into his body, and he’s now a 6-4, 190-pound kid — I thought it was possible from people I talked to he could get drafted this year,” Clovis head baseball coach Richard Cruce said.

Greenwalt planned to start with the Phillies organization “whenever they send me away.” He plans to complete his degree when he’s finished with baseball, which he hopes won’t be for a while.

The journey began Saturday, when Greenwalt hopped on a flight to Clearwater, Florida. He’ll spend about a week there before the club decides what to do with him and other draft picks. If he gets assigned to a minor league club, it will likely be one in Pennsylvania, where the Phillies keep many of their affiliate clubs in case a quick call-up is needed

“It’s just a lot of hard work,” Greenwalt said. “There are a bunch of different leagues to make it up to the big leagues. It depends on how hard you work and how bad you want it.”

Greenwalt’s parents, Drooper and Sunnie Greenwalt, admitted experiencing a spectrum of feelings over the last few days.

“We had mixed emotions,” Drooper Greenwalt said. “We were so excited for him and proud for him, but we were sad to see him start his career, start his life. But that’s what he’s worked for. I’m really proud of him.”

The parents have watched Keaton progress, one Heartland Conference trip at a time, and knew there was a chance at the draft once their son ran a 6.37 60-yard dash and it was common to see a half-dozen scouts at Chaps games.

“We owe a lot to Lubbock Christian and their coaches,” Sunnie Greenwalt said. “They gave that (once) scrawny boy a chance.”

Greenwalt is the first known Clovis High graduate drafted to an MLB team since Michael Thompson in 1992. Thompson never played baseball in high school, but was such an impressive runner in football and track that the Baltimore Orioles used a 50th-round pick on him.

The only known Clovis High graduate to make the major leagues was John Harris, who also played at Lubbock Christian when the California Angels picked him in the 32nd round in 1976.

LCU Athletics

Keaton Greenwalt

Greenwalt was one of four LCU players drafted this week, starting with senior catcher Andrew Pratt in the 10th round Tuesday by the Washington Nationals. Two other Chap teammates were drafted after Greenwalt Wednesday, with pitcher Chandler Casey selected in the 26th round by the Houston Astros and rightfielder Hill Alexander picked in the 28th round by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Had Greenwalt elected to stay at LCU for his senior season, the Phillies would have retained his draft rights until Aug. 15, and wouldn’t have been able to draft him in 2020 without his permission.

Greenwalt said the biggest reason for his success has been that he’s surrounded himself with great mentors, and that started long before he got to Lubbock.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without Coach Cruce,” Greenwalt said. “And my dad.”

 
 

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