On To The Pros

Scott Weathersby knew the Houston Astros were interested before he was selected Tuesday in the 10th round of the Major League Draft. They gave him a heads-up.

“At the beginning of the day, one of the Houston scouts told me to have my phone on me in case they needed to call,” said Weathersby, the Ole Miss fifth-year pitcher who just finished up his college career. “The scout (later) called me and said, ‘Are you ready to play? You ready to be an Astro?’ That was the decision-making process right there.”

Indeed there was no more to be said. Weathersby had already seen one of his childhood dreams achieved when he got to attend Ole Miss and pitch for the Rebels. Now he was going to get a shot at professional baseball.

The Oak Grove High School product as a college senior posted a 2.62 ERA in 17 appearances, including the first four starts of his career in his last four outings as a Rebel. He struck out 51 batters while only walking 14. He held opposing hitters to just a .216 average at the plate.

Weathersby said the Astros were complimentary of several aspects of his game.

“They said they like my makeup,” he said.” They’re really big with a thing called Trackman that we have at our field. It calculates more than velocity. It calculates movement that you get on the ball and spin rate you get on the ball. They were really impressed, they said, with the spin rate that I create.

“(Trackman monitors) stuff the radar gun doesn’t see, like whether the ball jumps out of your hand or not. The movement it gets once it leaves your hand, whether it has a lot of sink, or in my case has cut. And on your curve ball, the depth you get on it, and the top spin you get when you throw it. The things the radar gun doesn’t quite pick up.”

There’s an excellent chance there was more to it than just that. Weathersby was the ultimate teammate, a team captain and leader for the Rebels, and one of the reasons the team made it to Omaha last season and was a second seed in the NCAA Tournament this season.

Things will move pretty fast now. The Astros are sending someone to Oxford to visit with Weathersby this week.

“They’ll come see me later on this week, and that’s when I’ll sign,” said Weathersby, who posted a collegiate career record of 8-5 with an ERA of 2.82, striking out 118 batters over 111.2 innings of work. “So I haven’t signed anything yet.”

But he will, and then it’s time to head to the next step.

“From there I have to go Florida to their facility and undergo a physical and a minicamp for their new draft picks,” said Weathersby, who had a 4-1 record and a 2.13 ERA as a junior. "They told me I’d be going up to Tri-City in the New York-Penn League for A ball. It’s going to get going pretty quick.”

They have already told him how they handle their pitchers in short season A ball.

“They have a thing where you pitch every five days, and half the times you pitch you start and throw five or six innings,” he said. “The other times you throw three or four innings behind the starter. They call it a piggy back system to try to get as many people in there to start while lengthening your innings, and at the same time not making you throw 110 pitches. I’ve already thrown 60 innings (this spring at Ole Miss).”

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said he is happy for Weathersby as he now moves on to another level of baseball.

“I’m very proud of him,” Bianco said. “He has meant so much to our program, and I couldn’t be happier for this to happen to such a great individual.”

More from Scott:

* On his other plans – with Fellowship of Christian Athletes:

“I have an internship with (Ole Miss) FCA. I’ll start it in September when I get back and do it for six months until I leave for spring training in February or early March.”

* On what his wife Rachael thinks about his draft:

“Rachel is excited. We made the decision together as a family. She will be in nursing school here in Oxford starting in August. (Before that) she will get to go home to see her family in Texas. We have a support group of friends here (in Oxford). We’re really excited about that.”

* On who all has reached out to him:

“So many people have called and texted me and congratulated me. So that’s been a lot of fun. From California, to where I played summer ball, to here, to Hattiesburg, to Texas where Rachel’s family is. I’d say 30 to 40 people have reached out to me to congratulate me.”

* On if he had doubts two, three, four years ago that he would ever get to this point:

“I don’t think there was ever anything in my mind that thought this far in advance. At that point I was just doing my best to get to the next step, whether it was make the travel team or contribute a lot or be the guy that comes in when the game’s close. I was always trying to take the next step, and not on a three-year plan or anything.”

* On Mike Bianco congratulating him:

“Coach B text me earlier to congratulate me, and I text him thanking him for all the opportunities and all he’s done for me.”

* On hearing from his old roommate, another Ole Miss pitcher who went in the top ten rounds:

“Mike Mayers, my roommate from a few years back who went in the third round (in 2013), called me and said, ‘Congrats. You’re a top ten rounder.’ He was the first person to actually say it in those terms. It was a surreal moment. I’m really thankful for guys (former Ole Miss teammates) like him and Bobby Wahl and Chris Ellis and Austin Bousfield, people with uber amount of talent getting drafted in the top ten rounds. I’m really, really thankful and blessed the Astros think that highly of me.”

* On this year’s team and departing the program:

“I was super sad a week and a half ago when it was over, knowing I’m going to miss this team. There were a bunch of positive moments. Against the eight teams in Omaha, we played four of them and had an even record against them (6-6). With Texas A&M and Louisville playing the last day to go (to the College World Series), we had a chance to play six of the eight teams (had those two advanced; the Rebels were 2-2 vs. those two teams). So we did some good things this year.”

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