Years ago, high school and college baseball players wouldn’t discover they had been drafted by a major league team until they got a letter in the mail, days after the fact.
On Saturday, Matt Wotherspoon wasn’t even in the first handful of people to find out that he had been selected by the Detroit Tigers.
“It was pretty funny,” said Wotherspoon, a Crestwood grad who’s back in town after finishing his junior year at the University of Pittsburgh. “I got a few text messages congratulating me, so I actually found out from that.
“I went upstairs to do something and I missed it.”
Not that it made the day any less memorable. Wotherspoon got to spend the day with friends and family as the Tigers made him their 20th-round selection with the 606th overall pick.
Wotherspoon was one of the top pitchers to come out of the Wyoming Valley Conference in recent years. He was undrafted out of high school because he was set on attending Pitt and playing there.
The 6-foot-1 right-hander will now have another decision to make — turn pro and sign with the Tigers or return to Pitt for his senior season.
Wotherspoon said Saturday he wasn’t leaning one way or the other yet. Just like every other college junior who was drafted this weekend, it will come down in part to contract negotiations and how much the team is willing to offer.
But that can wait for another day. Saturday was about enjoying a milestone in what has been a successful career.
Though it was widely expected that Wotherspoon would be drafted this year, there’s still nothing that quite prepares a player for the moment that it happens.
“I mean, it was a pretty big shock,” Wotherspoon said. “It was something I’ve been working toward for quite some time. So I was kind of stunned at first. Just happy, really.
“You hate to use the line, but it was literally a dream come true.”
As a member of the Panthers’ rotation in 2013, Wotherspoon went 9-3 in 15 starts and led the team with 85 strikeouts in 107 innings.
He finished the year with a 3.70 ERA.
Pitt has proven to be a strong pipeline to the draft for WVC players in recent years. Coughlin grads Chris Sedon (10th round, 2009, Detroit) and Ray Black (seventh round, 2011, San Francisco) both were selected while playing for the Panthers.
At Crestwood, Wotherspoon was a two-time all-star selection and helped lead the Comets to the District 2 Class 3A championship game as a junior in 2009.
The Comets knew they had something special in Wotherspoon well before he even took the field for them.
“He’s just a really good person,” Crestwood coach Mark Modrovsky said. “Most people are rooting for Matt Wotherspoon. Because if you’ve met him, that’s the type of person he is.
“He’s really easy to root for, and that’s (aside from his) baseball ability. His family’s awful proud today, and it’s deserved.”
Wotherspoon made his varsity debut in WVC play in 2008. By 2009, he had established himself as the league’s best pitcher. In that junior campaign, he went 6-0 in the regular season with a 1.58 ERA, striking out 52 in 44 innings.
College and pro scouts alike had already taken notice, with Wotherspoon ultimately accepting a scholarship offer to pitch at Pitt.
As a senior in 2010, Wotherspoon upped his regular-season strikeout total to 53 in eight fewer innings, keeping his ERA at a pristine 1.94.
Wotherspoon finished his Comets career in league play at 12-3 with a 2.18 ERA and 133 strikeouts.
He credits his time at Crestwood and the people around him for helping prepare him for this moment.
“Coach Modrovsky played a huge role for me, coaching me for years at Crestwood,” Wotherspoon said. “Every time the scouts came to see me it was just, ‘Hey, man — just go out and have fun.’ There wasn’t any added pressure. You just throw your game.
“I really think that carried over for me and helped me.”