By: Dustin Kent - JCFloridan.com
The dream of hearing your named called on draft day is one shared by young athletes everywhere, and a local baseball star has a chance to hear his called pretty early during this weekend's Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
Former Marianna High School and Chipola Indians star Michael Mader is one of four Chipola players expected to be selected within the first 10 rounds of the draft and is projected to go as high as possibly the second round.
It's a moment that he has waited on for years, but one that Mader said he hasn't had much time to think about of late with his busy pre-draft travel schedule.
"Honestly, I haven't really thought about it as much. It hasn't hit me yet, but I know when it does it will hit me pretty hard," he said. "I'll probably be pretty speechless for sure, but I'll definitely be excited to get that phone call and hear my name. You see the NFL Draft and the NBA Draft and you see those guys getting the phone call and getting their names called. It's pretty cool to think I'm going to be one of those guys."
The 6-foot-2 left-handed pitcher starred for three seasons on the Bulldogs' varsity, winning 16 games and striking out 199 batters while posting a 2.19 Earned Run Average.
Mader then moved on to Chipola where he led the Indians to a Panhandle Conference title as a freshman and won the league's Pitcher of the Year award after posting an 8-3 record with a 3.19 ERA and 76 strikeouts.
He went 6-4 with a 3.30 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 2014 and helped the Indians make a return trip to the state tournament.
Since Chipola's elimination at the hands of Tallahassee, Mader has been making the pre-draft rounds with five separate workouts between trips to Atlanta, Jupiter, and most recently Seattle over the weekend where he pitched at Safeco field for Mariners scouts.
Mader has also met with the San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, and St. Louis Cardinals, though the only thing left for him now is to wait until Friday's second day of the draft when he's most likely to be picked.
"I'm really excited," he said Tuesday. "I feel like all the hard work is starting to pay off. I think this will be the year (I sign a professional contract)."
After being projected to go as high as fifth in last year's draft, Mader elected to return to Chipola for his sophomore season instead and has since committed to play next season at Florida State for long-time Seminoles coach Mike Martin.
That's a pretty appealing option for Mader should he not be picked by the third round, with him saying that if he is taken in the fourth round or later that he would lean towards playing for the Seminoles.
"I told Mike Martin I would love to go (to FSU) and he wants me to go there too, but he agreed that if I'm in the top three rounds that it would be a good idea for me to sign, and if not I would go to FSU," Mader said. "He was fine with that and respects my decision. I appreciate that a lot from him."
The college option is there for Mader and his teammates Ian Rice (Houston), Taylor Lewis (Florida), and fellow FSU commit Danny Mars, though clear preference for Mader at least is to sign a pro contract this year.
However, he said isn't sweating his draft position as much as one might think and would be happy with either scenario playing out.
"It's definitely a win-win whether I sign in the draft or not. It's going to be good for me either way," Mader said. "Going to FSU would help me out a lot, throwing in front of 15,000 fans over the weekend and playing against great competition. At the same time, if I go in the top three rounds, it will give me a great opportunity to play pro baseball and get some good money to start off with and get going in the minors."
Chipola coach Jeff Johnson said he expected Mader to go in the top three rounds due to the progress he has made over the past season.
"He's worked hard and really made a lot of strides development-wise with his secondary stuff," the coach said. "His velocity has peaked up and now he's just got to learn how to pitch with his velocity. Hopefully it works out well for him."
With Mars and Rice projected to go in the top six rounds and Lewis in the top eight, the Indians could have four players sign professional contracts in the same year.
"That would be something special," Mader said. "I'm not sure if any JUCO teams have done that before, but I'm not surprised. We had a really good team. It wouldn't be surprising to me if all of the top four signed."