College Sports

Granite City graduate taken in sixth round of MLB draft

Granite City native Chad Spanberger, who has played three years at Arkansas, is the top hitting prospect from the metro-east. He was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the sixth round of the MLB Draft Tuesday.
Granite City native Chad Spanberger, who has played three years at Arkansas, is the top hitting prospect from the metro-east. He was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the sixth round of the MLB Draft Tuesday. Arkansas Razorbacks photo

Chad Spanberger had already watched six hours of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on the MLB Network.

So he welcomed a sixth-round commercial break so he could switch the channel over to a rerun of “Friends.”

What the Granite City High School graduate missed was his name being called, No. 176 overall, by the Colorado Rockies.

“I changed the channel and all of the sudden I got a text from a friend telling me ‘Congratulations,’” Spanberger said. “It wasn’t 10 seconds later that the Rockies guy called me.”

He had only his mother to celebrate with — his father and brother were both at work when the call came at about 2:45 p.m.

Spanberger, a left-handed hitting first baseman, just completed his junior season at the University of Arkansas, where he batted .305 with 13 doubles and led the Razorbacks with 20 home runs, 67 RBIs and a .619 slugging percentage.

The 6-3, 235-pound Spanberger was ranked No. 163 by Baseball America, the top hitter from the metro-east available in the draft. He is projected a .260 hitter as a pro, with “legitimate power.”

He’ll report to the Rockies low-A affiliate in California within the month.

Spanberger likes his fit with the Rockies, who play their home games in Colorado’s thin mountain air.

“Colorado was the No. 1 place I wanted to play,” Spanberger said from his parents’ Granite City home. “That’s a great place to play if you’re a hitter.”

Spanberger bolstered his draft stock with his performance at the Southeastern Conference Tournament. In five games, Spanberger batted .421 (8-for-19) with three doubles, five home runs and 10 RBIs.

He set Arkansas single-game records with three homers and seven RBIs in a 12-0 win over Auburn.

“We thought that would help my value a lot. There was some talk it might get me into the third or fourth rounds,” he said. “That didn’t happen, but I’m glad to have been drafted and am looking forward to being a professional baseball player.”

Spanberger moved to first base for his junior year, but says he hopes to return to the outfield.

“I was drafted as a first baseman, but I think I’m a better outfielder,” he said. “I’ll do whatever they want me to do, though.”

Others waiting

Other metro-east draft prospects remain available. They include:

▪  Josh Fleming, a 6-foot, 180-pound left-hander from Columbia High School and Division III Webster University. No. 210

▪  Brady Schanuel, a pitcher from Belleville East who was drafted in the 36th round last year by the Oakland A’s. He pitched last season at Parkland College in Champaign and currently is committed to the University of Iowa.

▪  Eric Kaiser, a 6-foot-4 right-hander from Waterloo. His current intent is to attend Vanderbilt this fall.

▪  Adam Bauer, a Belleville West graduate at Southwestern Illinois College.

▪  Aaron Meyer, a Belleville West graduate and Missouri State University infielder.

▪  Wes Degener, an outfielder from Gibault who batted. 408 at Lindenwood University in St. Charles

▪  Cody Siebenberger, an outfielder from Freeburg who has since played at Jefferson College and committed to Missouri.

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