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Conway, Minnich selected in MLB draft

June 05, 2012|By TIM KOELBLE | koelble@herald-mail.com
  • Shepherd University senior first baseman Nathan Minnich was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the eighth round of the MLB draft with the 271st overall pick on Tuesday.
photo courtesy Shepherd University

Now pitching for the Chicago Cubs — Josh Conway.

Now batting for the Boston Red Sox — Nathan Minnich.

Those public address introductions sound pretty sweet for Conway and Minnich, two local baseball stars selected on Tuesday in the Major League Baseball Draft.

Conway — a 2009 Smithsburg High School graduate who was eligible for the draft a second time — was picked by the Chicago Cubs in the fourth round with the 134th selection overall.

“It’s been a long wait but I’m happy and ready to go into a great situation,” said Conway, who just completed his junior year at Coastal Carolina University.

Minnich then got the nod in the eighth round when he was tabbed by Boston, the 271st selection overall. He said it was likely he would sign a professional contract with the Red Sox late Tuesday.

“It would be a rush to hear my name introduced,” said Minnich, a Waynesboro High School graduate who rewrote much of the Shepherd University record book. “It’s been my goal even before high school to be in the majors.”

Conway’s selection showed once again that Tommy John surgery is not the end of a possible career. He underwent the operation on his right elbow on May 15 and is mending at home waiting to begin his rehab.

Conway said he’s never been to venerable Wrigley Field.

In 2009, Conway was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 42nd round but elected to go to Coastal Carolina, where he became strictly a pitcher. He was 4-1 with a 2.14 earned run average this season until the injury ended it early.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Conway, who said his own contractual discussions would begin shortly. “The surgery was a bump in the road but I’m ready to move on and get to my goal of reaching the majors.

“I was blessed to have the opportunity to go to college and be with a great coaching staff and great players.”

Conway, a 6-foot, 175-pound right-hander who was 14-3 with a 2.68 ERA in his career at Coastal Carolina, said he is confident in his comeback.

“Dr. (James) Andrews was happy with the surgery,” said Conway. “They were able to put extra loops in the elbow that will make it stronger and better than ever.”

Minnich expected to sign with Red Sox scout John Atkins and head out for his first assignment, which is expected to be with Boston’s New York-Penn League affiliate in Lowell, Mass. The Spinners open their season on June 18.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Minnich. “I’ve been on the phone non-stop since the pick. It’s a dream come true.”

On Monday, Minnich won the Tino Martinez Award as the most outstanding player in Division II college baseball.

His credentials are numerous and his name is splattered all over the Shepherd record book — including the single-season mark of 21 home runs he hit this year along with a .487 average and 72 RBIs, among other records.

Minnich said he always patterned his approach to playing baseball after his idol, Ken Griffey Jr. — especially when it came to swinging the bat.

“Boston said they are going to give me the chance to play first base all the way,” said Minnich. “Whenever I earn my spot (in the majors), I know I’ll be ready.”

Conway is the third Washington County player to be drafted recently.

Hagerstown’s Christian Binford, who played at Mercersburg Academy and signed with Kansas City, was drafted last season. In 2010, Clear Spring’s Brandon Glazer was drafted by Kansas City but went to the College of Charleston, where he has completed his sophomore year.

Minnich is the third player drafted from Waynesboro High School.

Greg White was drafted out of high school in 1994 by the San Francisco Giants as a pitcher, but chose to go to school at James Madison, where he was drafted in 1997 by the New York Mets as an infielder.

In 1996, younger brother Matt White was drafted seventh overall by San Francisco, but after a 10-day period in which a contract was not offered, signed with Tampa Bay.

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