Collinsville High senior Tanner Houck was preparing for his graduation party Saturday at Stonewolf Golf Course in Fairview Heights when he got the phone call.
It was family adviser Jason Wood letting the hard-throwing right-hander know he had been drafted in the 12th round by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Houck's graduation party just got a whole lot better. The University of Missouri recruit with a fastball in the low- to mid-90-mph range was the 354th overall pick.
"It was a great feeling, knowing that over the years I've worked so hard even to reach that moment," said Houck, who got the call around noon. "It was such a great feeling."
Houck said many of his family and friends got more fired up than he did after hearing the news.
"I think they were more excited than I was at the moment," Houck said. "I was still letting it sink in and they're all jumping around saying, 'You got drafted! You got drafted!'''
The 6-foot-5 Houck was 6-3 this season with a 1.72 ERA, striking out 113 in 65 innings with 17 walks. He allowed 16 earned runs in 11 starts and 12 appearances.
"Who wouldn't be excited to be 17 and get drafted right out of high school?" Houck said. "The round was a surprise. I honestly wish I could have gone a little bit higher, but it's still just a great feeling to even be considered for the draft.
"It's amazing. I'm still getting text message saying: 'Congratulations. What are you going to do. Are you going to college.'"
Houck's decision now will be whether to sign with the Blue Jays and begin his professional baseball career, or attend Missouri and try to get drafted again.
Civic Memorial High graduate Sam Johns, a fifth-year senior pitcher at the University of Evansville, was drafted in the 31st round by the Washington Nationals.
Florida State left-hander Bryant Holtmann, a Central High graduate, was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 37th round.
Holtmann, sidelined by forearm tightness late in the season, was 5-1 in 14 appearances and six starters with a 3.68 ERA. He struck out 29 in 36 2/3 innings for the Seminoles (43-17).
Several of Holtmann's FSU teammates were also drafted with junior pitcher Luke Weaver going to the St. Louis Cardinals with the 27th overall pick. Seminoles pitcher Brandon Leibrandt was a sixth-round pick by the Phillies while Peter Miller (Mariners) and Justin Gonzalez (Diamondbacks) each were taken in the ninth round.
Former Greenville High and current Southern Illinois University Carbondale right-handed pitcher Todd Eaton was drafted in the 34th round (1,023rd overall) by the Kansas City Royals.