By David Krueger Herald Writer
Branden Kelliher spent his last day of classes at Lake Stevens High School eagerly awaiting a call from a Major League Baseball team.
It took a bit longer than he anticipated, but the call finally came.
The Oakland Athletics selected Kelliher in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball draft Friday afternoon.
Kelliher was the 252nd selection overall.
“It was pretty unreal,” Kelliher said. “I’m truly blessed. It’s a once in a lifetime kind of thing. We’re just all ecstatic.”
Baseball America projected Kelliher to be drafted between the second and fifth rounds. It took a bit longer than that, enabling him to make it home after school and celebrate with his family while watching a stream of the draft online.
He heard from an advisor that Oakland may be taking him with the next pick and, moments later, Kelliher saw his name by the Athletics’ logo.
“There was a lot of hugging. Definitely a lot of screaming,” Kelliher said after he got drafted. “… It was a big waiting game,” Kelliher said. “I thought I was going to be taken in the second to fifth rounds. It started getting later and later in the draft and I didn’t know what to expect.”
The scouting service Perfect Game ranked Kelliher as the No. 1 high school baseball prospect in Washington state. It also listed him as the 39th-best right-handed pitcher in the nation.
Oakland was one of about four teams — including Seattle, Texas and St. Louis — that showed interest in the 5-foot-11 Kelliher. He expects to meet with the Athletics’ Northwest scout soon to go out to dinner and discuss a contract.
Players taken in the MLB draft have until July 18 to sign with their respective teams.
“I feel really good about it. (Being drafted in) the top 10 rounds is pretty special,” Kelliher said. “The Athletics have a really good organization and a really strong minor league (system). I think it would be really good for me.”
The Vikings senior previously committed to play at the University of Oregon, and says he hasn’t decided whether he’s going to sign a professional contract or play for the Ducks next season. Kelliher plans to discuss it with his family and hopes to make a decision in the next week or two.
“I’m pretty excited about being drafted. And I’ve always wanted to be a Division-1 baseball player,” Kelliher said. “Oregon’s a good school and it would be hard to pass up on it. I have a lot of consideration and thinking to do.”
In the meantime, Kelliher plans to celebrate with his family and attend Lake Stevens’ Senior Dinner Dance, a special event for the Vikings’ seniors on their last night of classes.
He also has several people to catch up with. The pitcher received numerous calls, text messages and Twitter notifications on Friday.
“My phone just blew up right after with all these text messages and notifications on social media,” Kelliher said. “I gained 15 more followers right after (being drafted) on Twitter.”
Kelliher said his most recent Twitter followers are mostly Athletics and Oregon baseball fans.