JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Providence has a storied baseball history, but it’s still missing something.
Maybe not after Monday night.
When the Major League Baseball draft gets moving, it’s expected that Stallions infielder Tyler Callihan will be off the board quickly. The South Carolina signee is a near-consensus first-round selection in just about any mock draft out there, which would be a first for Providence.
As elite as the Stallions have been on the diamond in high school and, later on in college, high draft selections have been sparse.
Only pitcher Walker Lockett, a fourth-round draft pick of the Padres in 2012, has cracked that upper draft ceiling among Providence alumni.
ESPN’s Keith Law has Callihan going 20th to Seattle. Bleacher Report has Callihan going 22nd to Tampa Bay. Baseball America lists him as the 37th-best player available. CBSSports has Callihan going 30th to the Yankees. MLB Draft Pipeline has Callihan ranked 35th.
Callihan has seen and heard the projections, but knows just how he draft works. It’s a tossup at best.
He spent the days leading up to the draft with family and took a long-awaited trip up the east coast to catch a slew of minor and major league games.
“Nerve-wracking process for sure,” Callihan said. “At the end of the day, it’s just kind of crazy because the draft is the most crazy thing in sports.
“Anything can happen on June 3, so you never know. Honestly, I wish I could tell you where I was going to go, what was going to happen. There’s actually zero way of telling. When it comes to that day, it’s all just about who gets picked before you, where picks line up. Everything has to go right for it to happen.”
What went right for Callihan during his career at Providence is just about everything.
He played in the system for years and excelled at the plate, and, as the Stallions’ top arm on the mound. As a senior, Callihan had a monster year, playing in front of scouts many games. He hit .447 with 12 home runs, 36 RBI and drew 20 walks. He struck out just 10 times in 119 plate appearances against a schedule that was the area’s most challenging.
Stallions coach Mac Mackiewitz said that Callihan’s power at the plate is one thing, but the 'it' factor is something else. He said that Callihan has been as good of an ambassador for the program as any Stallions player has. Callihan, who started playing at Providence in eighth grade, was never too big to help out, volunteer, talk to younger players or just pitch in with field maintenance.
I can’t say enough about @tylercallihan1 Just 8 days away from the @MLBDraft and he’s taking time out of his Saturday to help with our youth. That’s #givingback at its finest!! Thanks again Tyler pic.twitter.com/dMP7W9RRXq— TimCallahanFoundation (@TC22Foundation) May 25, 2019
“The whole culture will change around him because it’s a powerful thing when your best player, one of your best players, is that outgoing as far as friendliness to the younger kids, picking up stuff around the field. Some of the small stuff. It's really rare in high school sports to have someone that good, it changes everyone around you.
“He’s a guy in five years you could see being the face of a club. Would not shock me at all. And there’s just so much more there. And I’m excited whichever team gets him they’re going to know it in two or three months, and I can’t wait for them to realize what they have.”
The First Coast area has produced solid professional baseball players over the years, but not many have been drafted high straight from the high school ranks. Recent first-rounders like Kyle Parker (Bartram Trail) and D.J. Stewart (Bolles) were drafted out of Clemson and Florida State, respectively.
Only once since the first draft in 1965 has the area seen two high school players drafted in the top 50 picks. That came in 2004 when Wolfson teammates Billy Butler (14th to Oakland) and Eric Hurley (30th to Texas) were both first-rounders. Callihan, along with Bolles’ Hunter Barco, could both go early Monday night.
“Obviously at the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to make to MLB and play for whatever team you want to play for,” Callihan said. “But ever since I was 10 years old, I wanted to play for the University of South Carolina because I went up there and I saw a scrimmage and then I fell in love with the place. … Definitely had a special place in my heart. At the end of the day, it’s whatever your best route to MLB is.”
AREA PREP PLAYERS TAKEN WITHIN FIRST 50
Thirteen area players have been selected out of high school within the first 50 selections of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft since it began in 1965. Nine players were first-round picks when they were selected.
P Player School No. Team Year
IF Javier Baez Arlington CD 9 Cubs 2011
IF Billy Butler Wolfson 14 Royals 2004
C Christopher Cross Englewood 43 Red Sox 1967^
P Joel Davis Sandalwood 13 White Sox 1983
P Eric Hurley Wolfson 30 Rangers 2004
IF Chipper Jones Bolles 1 Braves 1990
P Brett Myers Englewood 12 Phillies 1999
P Sean Reid-Foley Sandalwood 49 Blue Jays 2014
P Chris Roberts Middleburg 34 Phillies 1989*
P Adam Wainwright Glynn Academy 29 Braves 2000
3B Randy Wallace Englewood 31 Reds 1972*
SS Robert Weaver Paxon 6 Indians 1968
SS Kevin Witt Bishop Kenny 28 Blue Jays 1994
* indicates second-round pick; ^ indicates third-round pick