Chandler Newman is anticipating a phone call next week that could put him on a path to the big leagues.
Newman, who graduated from Richmond Hill High School two weeks ago, is projected to be chosen in the first 10 rounds of the Major League Baseball draft.
“He’s a big-leaguer,” RHHS head baseball coach Stacy Bennett said. “He wants it and he knows what he has to do to make it, and his priorities are exactly where they need to be for him to achieve those goals.”
The draft begins Monday and lasts for 40 rounds over three days. Though mock drafts abound on the Internet, Newman isn’t trying to guess which team will select him in which round.
“There’s not really a certain expectation,” Newman said. “I’m just enjoying the experience. It doesn’t really matter where I go because it’s an awesome thing just to get drafted.”
The hard-throwing right-hander has worked out for eight major-league teams in recent weeks. Newman impressed the scouts with a fastball that consistently clocked around 95 mph and reached as high as 97.
“Holy cow, he was unbelievable,” Bennett said. “His sheer arm strength and athleticism are going to take him so far.”
Bennett described Newman as always having a “big arm,” and the rest of his body has begun to catch up. Newman has continued to mature and become stronger as he has grown to 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds.
“It’s been a lot of fun to watch him grow this whole season,” Bennett said. “Every time he went out, he got better and better. He’s special.”
His high-school coach also credits Newman as being a savvy pitcher with a good understanding of the game. Along with his blazing fastball, Newman’s repertoire includes a changeup and slider.
Newman said he began playing baseball at age 4. While he also played football and basketball, Newman began making baseball his top priority in eighth grade.
“All I dreamed about is going to the majors, playing professional baseball,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been working for my whole life.”
Newman does have another option, though, if he is not drafted high enough for his liking. He previously signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Georgia Southern University.
“There is that slot that you want to get in the draft that, if the money’s not there, there is a huge possibility that I’d go to Southern still,” Newman said.
Should that happen, he will be the second member of the Newman family playing college baseball. His brother Hunter is a sophomore pitcher at LSU, currently sporting a miniscule 0.53 earned-run average with 3-0 record and four saves.
If Newman is happy with his draft position, he will begin his pro baseball career in the minor leagues. That will mean taking lengthy bus rides from city to city, playing in smaller stadiums and toiling in relative obscurity.
However, Bennett is confident Newman will take the same approach he had in high school to work up through the minor-league ranks.
“His work ethic is unbelievable,” Bennett said. “He’ll text me at 10 o’clock at night — I’m already sleeping, I’ll get it the next morning — but he’s at the gym working out. Sometimes even later than that.”
Newman will be at home during the draft, waiting for the phone call from the team that selects him. The draft’s first two rounds will be held Monday, followed by rounds three through 10 on day two and the remaining rounds in rapid succession on day three.
“Hopefully I’ll be hearing something on that second day,” Newman said.