It's no surprise that Charles Mack was taking batting practice at the Hot Corner Baseball Academy in Getzville when the Minnesota Twins called on Tuesday with the news that he had been selected in the sixth round of the Major League Baseball Draft.
"Hardest-working kid I ever coached," said Jerry Gasz, Mack’s coach a Williamsville East High. "No matter where I put him, he was the best player we had at that position."
Besides Mack, right-hander pitcher Tyler Smith of Canisius College was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the eighth round on the second day of the selections which will be completed today starting with the 11th round.
Getting drafted or getting selected as early as Mack was, the 184th pick, was no upset.
"I knew I was going to be drafted," Mack said Tuesday night. "It was more of a question of when."
Mack, who played varsity at East since seventh grade, batted around .530 with five home runs and 29 RBIs for the Flames this spring.
"We had a talk when he was in seventh grade," Gasz said. "He told me his goal was to be a major league player. … I told him he was going to be special but he had to remember one word – humility.
"And, he’s still a humble young man who now is closer to achieving his dream."
After he graduates from East on June 24, Mack will be off for somewhere in the south. The question is: Will it be to Clemson University in South Carolina where he has a scholarship waiting or Fort Myers, Fla., where the Twins have their Gulf Coast League Rookie Class team?
According to MLB estimates, the 184th pick in the draft is worth $253,700.
Mack has played all over the field, even catcher for East, but he’s been the starting shortstop the last two seasons.
"I think the Twins are projecting me at third base," said Mack, who bats left-handed. "I’ll know more when I get down there and they evaluate you."
At 6-feet, 190 pounds and 18 years old, Mack conceivably could grow out of the shortstop position.
Mack is the third player Gasz has coached in 49 seasons at Williamsville East to be selected in the MLB Draft. The first was Paul Daddario by the Atlanta Braves in 1983. Most recent was pitcher Zach Anderson by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009 after playing at the University at Buffalo.
Mack was the fifth player from New York State selected in the draft and the first from upstate and the first non-pitcher.
Smith, of Trafford in western Pennsylvania, is the 14th Canisius player to be selected in the draft, 13 in the last 10 years. As the 241st selection he is the highest pick taken from the school since pitcher Joe Mamott in the sixth round of the 1994 selections.
"Very surprised," was Smith’s reaction when the Angels called him in Buffalo and told him "we want to take you."
"This is an absolute blessing, first and foremost," Smith said. "To hear my name called was unreal."
An Angels scout will be in Buffalo Wednesday to sign the Golden Griffins’ bullpen ace to a contract. Then it’s off to the Angels' Arizona League team. The approximate value of the 241st pick is $164,700 according to MLB.
After being attracted to Canisius because of its business program – he was a finance major – Smith began his college career as a position player and pitcher. After batting .091 in his freshman season, he decided to concentrate on pitching.
Soon he became a staple in the Griffs’ bullpen. In 89 pitching appearances for Canisius over four seasons, Smith had a 12-6 won-lost record and a 2.50 earned-run average with 22 saves.
In the 2018 season, he was 2-3 in 25 games, with 10 saves and an 0.98 ERA. In his final 47 career appearances over his junior and senior seasons, he allowed just 15 runs, with only five of those runs being earned.
The 2018 MAAC Relief Pitcher of the Year and a 2018 MAAC Baseball Championship All-Tournament Team.
Smith is a solid 6-feet and 230 pounds.
"I not the biggest and I don’t throw the hardest, but I’m a competitor," he said. "I don’t think any batter deserves to get a hit off me. I know that’s arrogant but that’s the way you have to be to survive in baseball."