MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

June 8, 2014

Four area players get the call on final day of draft

When it comes major league baseball preferences, the Poteete household has long been a St. Louis Cardinals household.

That began to change Saturday.

Surrounded by the family that watched him grow beyond his days as a Hilldale Hornets catcher and, after a sojourn at Texas Tech, finish at Connors State this past spring, Jarrard Poteete got a call conforming he’d been drafted in the 19th round of the MLB draft by the Minnesota Twins.

“The house erupted,” Poteete said. “All the years and work, they just wanted to see something happen. They’re all still Cardinal fans at heart but I guarantee there’s a few more Twins in here now.”

His mother, Tobi Poteete, owns just one piece of baseball apparel that’s not connected to the Cardinals, and she had it on Saturday.

“It’s a Joe Mauer Twins shirt. I only bought it because it had a picture of a catcher on it,” she said. “I’m getting my son to sign it.”

It was, as Poteete said, a “wishy washy” start to the weekend. Following Friday’s second day of the draft, he got “seven or eight calls” Friday night then “three or four more” just before the Twins, who had made contact with him and visited early this season at Connors, called and made him the 560th pick overall.

And yes, we did say finish at Connors State. There won’t be two more years of college for the 2012 All-Phoenix Most Valuable Player and a key part of Hilldale’s only Class 4A championship that year.

“I’m going to go play some professional baseball,” he said. “The Twins tell me we’ll get the details ironed out, then we’ll talk contract and work it out. I have every intention of fulfilling my dream.”

Poteete hit .390 in 195 appearances at the plate, collecting 76 base hits, which included 15 doubles, one triple and four home runs. He had a slugging percentage of .538 and an on base percentage of .481. He transferred from Tech, where he was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American.

He appeared in 58-of the Cowboys 59 games last season, collecting 55 RBIs, walking 27 times and striking out just 14 times. Poteete also had three stolen bases.

Outside the family, the next person Poteete talked to was his former Hilldale teammate, Dalton Cunningham.

“He’s been my go-to man ever since I was 10 years old,” Poteete said. “It was a good moment, a best-friend thing.”

Poteete wasn’t the only local to get a call, nor the only catcher.

Former Eufaula Ironhead Daniel Salters was picked in the 22nd round by the Washington Nationals. The sophomore at Dallas Baptist, who was instrumental in three Eufaula state tournament runs, was a catcher for a squad that made last week’s Fort Worth Regional.

Salters got the call during lunch, his own grilled steak. His direction isn’t as certain as Poteete’s. He has the option of returning to the team that was eliminated in the regional. He hit .251 in 61 starts but had a .454 slugging percentage, a .97 fielding percentage and threw out 15 of 33 baserunners attempting to steal.

“It’s going to be really, really tough,” he said. “I have an adviser who understands the process and I know I’ll have the opportunity to be drafted higher with a good junior year,” he said. “I’ll talk with him, talk with my family, pray about it and see how things go.”

It was a double-dose of joy for Salters’ family on Saturday. His cousin, Caleb Dirks, was picked 463d overall by Atlanta in the 15th round. Dirks is out of California Baptist University.

“We played together this summer in Alaska,” Salters said. “We drove up together and it was a good experience transitioning from JUCO to Division I pitching.”

Also, Bacone pitcher Tim Hill went to Kansas City in the 32nd round and Wagoner grad Justin Ferrell gave Connors State coach Perry Keith his second current Cowboy to get selected, going to Houston in the 36th round, 1,066th overall.

Hill was 10-2 in 14 starts for the NAIA tournament-qualifying Warriors, sporting a 1.89 ERA and 100 strikeouts and 31 walks in 95 innings.

Ferrell was the Cowboys’ closer. He was 3-2 appearing in 22 games, with five saves for an earned run average of 2.08. Ferrell recorded 54 strikeouts in 52 innings

“I thought I’d go earlier, but Houston has shown interest in me since the beginning and it’s an up-and-coming organization loaded with young talent,” he said. “I think I’ll get a good chance to work my way up through an organization with a bright future.”

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