The Atlanta Braves selected star Paraclete pitcher Joey Estes in the 16th round Wednesday, confident they can convince the right-hander to forgo a scholarship to Long Beach State and begin his professional career immediately.
Once Estes, 17, went undrafted in the first two days of the MLB Draft, he expressed anticipation about enrolling at Long Beach State and playing for one of the elite college baseball programs in America.
Atlanta indicated to Chad Eberhardt, Estes’ advisor, that they could meet the price tag necessary to turn pro immediately.
It would depend on if previous draft picks signed at bonus levels the organization budgeted for, so there could be some waiting involved.
There may have been a Paraclete-Atlanta connection involved.
One of Estes’ Spirits teammates this season was Dominic Ragazzo, the son of Braves international scouting operative Rick Regazzo.
Ragazzo has been a scout since 1990, including a stint as Vice-President of Pro Scouting with the Dodgers under general manager Ned Colletti.
A three-year starter for Coach Greg Burnias at Paraclete, Estes wrapped up his high school career in 2019 with an 8-0 record and 0.91 ERA. He struck out 124 in 77 innings pitched.
When the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder began dominating hitters two and three years older as a sophomore in 2017, some excitedly speculated he could join Kevin Appier (ninth overall to Kansas City in 1987) and Matt Harrington (seventh overall to Colorado in 2000) as first round picks.
Estes was precociously realistic about his prospects.
“I feel like I’ve always been underrated,” he said. “It’s tough for scouts to get up here to watch our games, so I think there are a lot of players in the Valley who kind of get overlooked.
“For me, it’s just more motivation to show what I can do.”