It is ‘Draft Day’ for Major League Baseball and 2017 LHS graduate worked & played his way into a top prospect
By Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND, OH (June 10, 2020) — Luke Waddell is watching with his family, friends and the rest of the baseball world as the 2020 MLB Draft began at 7 p.m. EDT tonight, Wednesday, June 10, and goes thru Thursday, June 11, to the end of five rounds of selections.
Luke Waddell played his high school baseball at Loveland High School (Stock photo)
Luke starred as a multi-sport athlete during his four year high school career as a Tiger at Loveland High School. His focus and true passion turned to the baseball diamond during the spring with LHS and in the summer with the Midland Baseball program. The slick-fielding shortstop made the plays on defense, and with a propensity to get on base, used his speed to propel the offense for his team. He earned a scholarship to continue playing baseball during college at Georgia Tech University in the competitive Atlantic Coast Conference.
Today Waddell is home in Loveland, Ohio working out on his own staying fit and baseball ready while waiting to learn which Major League Baseball (MLB) organization will select him to continue his development at the professional level of the game he loves to compete in. If it weren’t for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Luke would likely be on an hours-long bus ride with his Georgia Tech teammates headed to their next college baseball game. He admits the disappointment in a shortened college baseball season.
“It’s a bummer for sure,” said Waddell. “I’d definitely rather be on an 8-hour bus ride going to somewhere. It would be a lot more fun.”
Luke Waddell showed range and a strong throwing arm at shortstop for Georgia Tech (Stock photo)
Waddell was a 32nd round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2019 MLB draft as an eligible college sophomore player. He watched the first couple days because he was excited about some of the guys he knew were going to be picked. He was not expecting to be chosen.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to get drafted last year,” Waddell said.
He was actually watching TV in his room when a couple guys texted him congratulations.
“I just sat there for a couple seconds and then I got a call from that area scout from the D-Backs,” he said. “That was exciting.”
Waddell was not ready to sign. In fact, the Diamondbacks told him they knew he wasn’t really interested in signing yet, but chose him to let him know they were interested. He was not yet receiving the recognition as a top professional prospect. That all changed when he was invited to try out for the U.S. National Baseball team for summer of 2019.
“Then I made the National Team last summer,” said Waddell. “That was really big for me. I had a good summer and I think I proved myself to a lot of people there. That stirred a lot of interest in me.”
Waddell raised his stock with MLB while having a good season with the USA National Team during 2019 (Chuck Gibson)
Most college baseball players wait until after their junior year to see if they’re picked in the MLB draft to sign professionally. It was no different for Waddell this past fall as he got more looks from scouts who began to see him as a junior ready to sign.
“I think I had a good sophomore year at Tech,” he said. “Then Team USA was obviously a really big deal for me. I think I finally proved myself to some people. This year is a little different. I’m getting a little more interest from teams. I’m a little more into the draft.”
Waddell hit .322 with a .436 on-base percentage as a sophomore and had a good summer season with Team USA a year ago. It was a good experience playing and travelling with the best of the best. He especially valued the experience travelling to Taiwan and Japan to play.
“It was just non-stop competition,” Waddell said. “It was great. I played well and I think I proved myself to some scouts.”
Waddell says there are endless stories from the travel, but one of his favorites was a Taiwan road trip to avoid rain and play a doubleheader. They spent a lot of time in a hotel eating Taiwanese food waiting out the rain. Between games of the doubleheader against their national team, they received a special delivery in the clubhouse.
“They bring in like a hundred Big Mac’s and French fries and Cokes in between games and we just smashed it,” said Waddell. “It was the best McDonalds I ever had in my entire life. I’m pretty sure we won both of those games up there.”
Luke Waddell fields a ground ball while with the USA National Team during summer of 2019 (Chuck Gibson)
Six days in Taiwan and seven days all around Japan was a great experience for him. Then it was back to Georgia Tech for the fall season and classes. Waddell was named Solo Team Captain for what would be a young team with a lot of freshman talent. The season was cut short, but he still feels he was able to use his leadership ability to pass on some good lessons for the younger players.
“It was looking like it was going to be a really good year for us as a team,” Waddell said. “Being a captain, I was excited about what the team was going to do and how good these freshmen were going to end up being. It was almost like it was stolen from us.”
Waddell is a competitor and has continued to work hard at home in Loveland. He has weights in his own basement and has been able to get in some throwing, hitting and running at Midland facilities. He’s been taking ground balls and staying ready for whatever the draft brings for his future development in professional baseball.
Waddell has no idea which team will draft him, or where his name will be called in the draft order. He’ll be watching along with the rest of the baseball world as the draft starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, and continues for five rounds thru Thursday, June 11.
“At the end of the day, it’s going to be a crazy couple days,” Waddell said. “You never know what teams are going to do. You just kind of gotta wait and see. Hopefully I get put in a good situation. At the end of the day, you just want a team that likes you to pick you. I’m just hoping for the best.”
The right-handed throwing shortstop bats left handed and stands 5’-9” tall at about 185 pounds. He has a good throwing arm, gets on base and can run. We’ll know when Luke knows. He’ll be talking with us at Loveland Beacon once he has been selected. Watch here for his reaction Friday.
Click here to watch the MLB.com 2020 Draft Video on Luke Waddell