KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Three years ago, Mark Sappington was a little known pitcher graduating from Raymore-Peculiar High School. He threw in the mid-80's back then. So, he had a hard time getting noticed by college coaches let alone professional scouts.
"I didn't really have too much going on."
What a difference three years can make. Sappington is now 21 years old. He just finished his junior season at Rockhurst University. The right-hander led Rockhurst to the Division II Midwest Regional Championship Game. He was 10-3 with a 1.78 ERA. He had more than one strikeout per inning. Opponents hit just .198 against him. That mid-80's fastball is now a mid-90's fastball. He can touch 96 mph.
"I'm very blessed. God has blessed me with a pretty decent arm. That and my parents. Thanks guys."
That arm has drawn the attention of Major League scouts. They started showing up at his games last summer. Things picked up this spring. Sappington says he had 15-20 scouts at some of his starts.
"I had a lot of exposure."
The scouts apparently liked what they saw. Sappington has spent the past week traveling around the country to invited tryouts. He has worked out for the Astros, Cardinals and Royals.
"Throwing at the 'K' is probably the best. As a kid, you go to all those baseball games. Those are your heroes growing up. I remember watching Zack Greinke when I was 16 years old...going up there and being like, 'Man, I want to do what he's doing right now.' You never know if that's going to come to fruition. Now, that's something that is feasible."
The 6'4", 220-pounder will likely achieve his professional baseball dream on the second day of the draft. He has been told he should get selected anywhere from the third to sixth rounds.
"I'm so lucky. I can't beat it."
The MLB Draft runs Monday through Wednesday. Round One and the compensation picks will be Monday. Tuesday will feature Rounds 2-15. Rounds 16-40 will be on Wednesday.