Like most little boys, Adam Whitt dreamed of playing Major League Baseball, and now he’s one step closer to starting the road to achieving that dream.
Whitt, the Carson High and University of Nevada pitcher, was drafted in the 16th round (469th overall) by the Houston Astros Wednesday morning.
Whitt, who compiled a 2-2 record with a school-record 14 saves and a 2.82 ERA, was back east with his Cape Cod League team when he heard the news. He was fresh off chalking up a four-out save (four strikeouts) for the Cotuit Kettleers in the league opener against Harwich on Tuesday night.
“I talked to the Astros (today),” Whitt said. “We haven’t agreed on any contract. They want to fly me to Houston for a physical, and then after that we’ll see where it goes.
“I’d talked to the Astros in the fall. I went to Starbucks with one of their area scouts (Bryan Byrne, former D-Backs minor leaguer) and we talked about things. They were trying to get a feel for me and what I was thinking. I knew they were definitely interested. They were one of the teams that called a few times. There were several teams that were in contact.”
Whitt, who was able to share the joy with his father, Greg, said he went about where he expected.
“Everybody was saying between 10 and 15,” he said. “The Astros called me during the 15th round and told me they were taking me in the next round if I was still around.”
And, he was. He was the third Wolf Pack player chosen Wednesday, following Austin Byler, Ryan Howell, Jordan Devencenzi and Kewby Meyer.
Whitt said coach Jay Johnson’s departure wouldn’t have had any influence on whether he would sign or come back to Nevada for a final season.
“I was pretty much planning to go no matter what,” Whitt said. “I’ve talked to the Astros (about money) about graduate degree programs, but we’ll have to see about that when I go back there.”
Because he still has eligibility left. Whitt does have a little leverage. Based on his comments, if Whitt gets a fair offer his professional journey is going to start soon. Likely destinations would be the Gulf Coast League, the Tri-City Valley Cats in the New York-Penn League or the Greenville Astros in the Appalachian League.
Whitt admitted he didn’t study any particular organization prior to this weekend’s draft. nor did he have a team he was secretly hoping would pick him.
“I was just hoping somebody would give me the opportunity to play professional baseball,” Whitt said.
Nevada pitching coach Dave Lawn, who said he’s leaving Nevada to join Jay Johnson at the University of Arizona, was overjoyed with the news about Whitt, and he fully expected the talented right-hander to sign with the Astros.
“A self-made great player,” said Lawn, whose son, Matt, pitched at Reno High the past two years. “When guys convert to submarine or that sort of thing there aren’t a lot of people around who know how to teach that. When we first got here, I told him that we’d see what he was doing when things were going well and what he was doing when things were going bad. Fortunately, things were almost always good with him.
“He’s graduated; a fourth-year junior. We were prepared for him to go or come back, but from every indication I was getting he was going to sign, but you don’t to just come out and say that because he still has some leverage.”
Whitt was a walk-on at Nevada when Gary Powers was head coach. Whitt was throwing in the low 80s at the time. One day in the bullpen, he dropped down for a sidearm pitch. Powers told him to keep doing that; that it was his best chance to make the team.
Whitt made the change, and the rest is history.
Until a contract is signed, Whitt is going to continue to pitch in the Cape Cod League to stay in shape. He made the all-star game last year, and should repeat if he’s still there at the midway point of the season.