Baker watching Monday’s draft closely [Baseball]

June 2, 2012

Dylan Baker

Just because Alaska’s Dylan Baker of Western Nevada College is an overnight sensation doesn’t mean he woke up one day and was good.

No, he became the No. 1 junior college prospect in the country because of sweat and sacrifice. It was during the offseason, away from the bright lights of the field.

“I worked out really hard and gained 15 to 20 pounds,” Baker told me. “I worked with my pitching coach, Jeremy Beard; he actually helped me a lot.

“He helped me with my mechanics. We worked on a lot of drills – long toss to strengthen my arm, flexibility, stride out farther to get closer to the plate. All that I really think made the difference.”

It doesn’t hurt to throw in the high 90s, either.

Baker, of Juneau-Douglas fame, used his overpowering fastball and devastating breaking stuff to go 13-0 and lead Western Nevada College back to the JUCO World Series.

His ERA looked like a receipt for a candy bar – 1.91.

His 126 Ks in 84 innings was also off the charts.

It was like Baker was a star overnight.

“Last year I wasn’t nearly as good, wasn’t throwing nearly as hard. I felt like I could do a lot better, but I didn’t see it happening this fast,” Baker said. “I came from a good program with a really good coach that cares about his players and knows exactly what he’s doing.

“It just all worked out.”

Western Nevada College coach D.J. Whittemore called Baker’s super season arguably the greatest by a college pitcher in the history of the game. That’s high praise, but it doesn’t appear to be hot air.

Baker is a lock to get picked in next week’s Major League Baseball Draft, the only question is where.

“I’ve been hearing first and second round, but a draft goes a lot of ways and you never really know,” he said. “I’m just really nervous.”

The major league draft begins Monday and continues Tuesday and Wednesday.

Monday is only the first round and it will be televised live on the MLB Network [Ch. 149 on GCI cable, Ch. 709 in HD].

Baker will watch it in Carson City, Nev., with his coaches, parents, girlfriend and her family, hoping to hear his named called.

“If I don’t go in the first round I will be a little upset but I can’t really be made at myself, especially because I wasn’t even really looked at last year and now I’m getting drafted in hopefully the first or second round.”