Sports

Strong day for metro-east players in Major League Draft

Wednesday was a good day for former metro-east players in the Major League Draft.

Belleville West graduate and Morehead State all-conference first baseman Kane Sweeney was drafted in the 29th round (873rd overall) by the New York Yankees.

“I was sitting at my apartment in Morehead (Ky.). I was just watching TV and heard my name called and freaked out,” said Sweeney, who was packing in a hurry since he has to report to the Yankees’ camp Thursday in Tampa, Fla. “It’s been a long ride, a lot of work. It’s been interesting and it’s been fun.

“It’s been a crazy last few days and very stressful, but also very exciting. I couldn’t be more thrilled to just have the opportunity to keep playing.”

Sweeney (6-foot-3, 220 pounds), a Millstadt resident, helped lead Morehead State to the NCAA Tournament as a first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference selection. The slugging first baseman had one of the team’s highest batting averages (.353) and belted 15 home runs and drove in 62 runs in only 59 games.

“I didn’t work out for any teams because our season ran so late,” said Sweeney, who had interest from the Yankees and San Francisco Giants.

Sweeney’s father, John Sweeney, had just left his son’s apartment headed back to Millstadt after not seeing his son’s name come up in the draft to that point in the day.

“I called him while he was on his way home,” Kane Sweeney said. “He couldn’t be any more proud and excited.”

Former O’Fallon High catcher Austin Bossart, who just finished his senior year at the University of Pennsylvania, was selected in the 14th round (414th overall).

Former Central High left-hander Bryant Holtmann, who helped lead Florida State on a deep NCAA Tournament run, was drafted in the 24th round (706th overall) by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Former Highland High and Lindenwood-St. Charles pitcher Geoff Hartlieb went to the New York Mets in the 37th round (1,109th overall).

That pushed the metro-east draft total to four players after Alton High senior left-hander Bryan Hudson. Hudson was a third-round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. Hudson may be leaning toward signing to play professionally despite having a scholarship to Missouri.

Bossart has an Ivy League education that includes an economics degree from Penn with minors in math and computer science. But even with his impeccable academic credentials, Bossart is ready to hit baseballs instead of hitting the job market with the rest of his graduating class.

“I looked at it as a once-in-a lifetime situation,” Bossart said. “This is the shot I have and I’m going to give it 100 percent. That was always Plan B and baseball was always Plan A, so I get to live the dream.”

Bossart (6-2, 210) recently was named Ivy League Co-Player of the Year and also was the first-team all-conference catcher for the second straight season.

Het hit .358 with 13 doubles, four home runs and 27 RBIs. Bossart also threw out 17 baserunners this season, including 10-of-17 trying to steal in Ivy League play.

“ It’s the dream since I’ve been three years old, so it’s definitely pretty amazing,” said Bossart, who was watching the draft at home with his family. “I’ve been in Philadelphia for four years now (at Penn) and it looks like I’m going back.”

Bossart is the fifth player in Penn history to win Ivy League Player of the Year and first since 2010. He also was the first Penn player selected in the draft since 2012.

“I’ve got a lot of my family over and we were listening to my computer,” Bossart said. “I wasn’t paying attention at the time, but I heard my last name called and I started looking up. My phone is blowing up from all my teammates.”

Other players move to catcher from another position, but not Bossart. He’s been behind the plate since he was 8.

“I liked it because I got to put on all the gear,” he said. “That was the most fun part for me.”

Holtmann was at home in Albers with his parents and girlfriend when his name came up on the screen with being drafted by the Diamondbacks.

The 6-foot-5 left-hander was 6-1 this season for Florida State with a 3.36 ERA in 20 games, including nine starts.

Holtmann said he had talked with the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox and Giants.

“I had no contact with Arizona before they picked me up,” he said. “It was exciting, a dream come true for me. I wouldn’t trade all the hard work I put it into it for anything. This has alwasys been a life-long dream of mine.

“All it takes is one team to like you enough.”

Hartlieb, a 6-6 senior right-hander, was 2-3 for Lindenwood with a 6.02 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 43 1/3 innings. He appeared in 12 games, including five as a starter.

The Washington Nationals selected Gateway Grizzlies infielder Clayton Brandt in the 19th round. Brandt signed with the Grizzlies May 27 after playing for MidAmerica Nazarene.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at nsanders@bnd.com or 618-239-2454. Follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders.

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