Michael Mariot signed to play baseball at Nebraska about a month before the start of the 2007-08 academic year. Today, that looks like a great decision.
On Tuesday, the 6-foot right-handed junior pitcher from Southlake, Texas — undrafted out of high school — was chosen by Kansas City in the eighth round of the Major League draft. Mariot was the first of five Huskers taken during the second day of the draft, which concludes Wednesday with rounds 31 through 50.
NU also had six recruits picked Tuesday, including Nebraska City left-handed pitcher Logan Ehlers (to Toronto in the eighth round) and Drew Robinson, a shortstop/outfielder from Las Vegas (to Texas in the fourth round).
But of the current Huskers who were picked Tuesday, Mariot served as the best example of what happens to someone who develops.
“It’s every kid’s dream to play in the Major League, but I never thought I’d be drafted. I didn’t even make the high school (varsity) team as a senior,” Mariot said from his home Tuesday. “I just got a lot better at Nebraska.”
This past season, Mariot went 6-6 with a 4.70 earned-run average and led the Huskers with 82 strikeouts and 95 2/3 innings. He showed his durability by pitching into the seventh inning in his final 12 starts.
Originally, Mariot had planned on attending Grayson County Community College in Texas, but NU pitching coach Eric Newman, who’d recruited him when he was the head coach at Dallas Baptist, took another look at him at an all-star game in the summer of 2008.
“My mom was there and she didn’t know who he was, but she saw him walk by talking on the phone with Coach (Mike) Anderson and all she heard him say was ‘Mariot’s ready to go,’” Mariot said. “I took a trip (to Lincoln) that next week, stepped on the field and said ‘This is where I’m playing.’”
Mariot wasn’t surprised he went to Kansas City. He worked out for the Royals in Kauffman Stadium last Tuesday before going back to Texas.
Tuesday night, he celebrated his selection by … fishing.
“A buddy of mine called and asked me, ‘Do you want to party and have some fun?’” Mariot said. “I was like, ‘How about fishing?’ It’s something I do to relax.”
He can definitely do that now. Mariot is likely to sign with the Royals, and said if he does, he wants to do it quickly in order to give Nebraska coaches more time to adjust their recruiting plans.
With Ehlers and Robinson going in the top eight rounds, there’s a good likelihood they’ll have to make some more adjustments.
Other Nebraska recruits drafted Tuesday included: Shane Opitz, an infielder from Centennial, Colo. (by Toronto in the 11th round), and three right-handed pitchers — Jon Keller, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa (by Seattle in the 11th round), Jon Musser, from Waukee, Iowa (by Philadelphia in the 21st round) and Brandon Pierce, from Gunter, Texas (by Pittsburgh in the 26th round).
Besides Mariot, four Husker underclassmen were picked.
* Left-handed junior pitcher Ryan Hughes, who threw 10 innings in his first year at NU, was a 16th-round pick of Oakland’s.
* Right-handed junior pitcher Mike Nesseth went to Philadelphia in the 17th round. Nesseth had returned for his junior season after being a 15th-round pick of the Angels, but pitched in 14 innings this spring before having surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow.
* Senior right fielder Adam Bailey was a 23rd-round pick of Houston. Bailey returned after being a 38th-round pick of the Yankees and then became a first-team All-Big 12 performer.
* Sophomore right-handed pitcher Sean Yost went to Boston in the 24th round.
Nebraska has now had three pitchers selected in the first 20 rounds of the draft for the fourth time in five years.
Anderson said with the exception of Mariot and Robinson that Tuesday’s draft scenario “creates a long summer” in terms of what next fall’s roster will look like.
“We’re hopeful (of getting) everybody,” he said.
Reach Curt McKeever at 473-7441 or email@example.com.