Round 26 and the 780th pick.
That is what Crosby High School alum Hunter Hearn will always be able to hold on to when he looks back on his baseball life no matter what happened from there.
That’s because Hearn was drafted last week by Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies as a centerfielder and no matter what happens next, he will always be able to say he got his chance.
Now he hopes to make the best of it while on assignment in Clearwater, Florida at the Philadelphia training facility.
“I can play anywhere but shortstop and second, but probably could if they wanted me to,” Hearn said. “All money aside and I’d love to have had a large signing bonus, but I don’t come from money and never really had money. It’s a privilege. It’s an opportunity and I have to start back at the bottom. I have to go prove myself and make the most of it.”
He arrived in Clearwater on June 8 and it’s been a whirlwind full of “different” humidity than Southeast Texas and getting worked hard each day.
“I wake up, a shuttle picks us up and we go to the field and train all day,” Hearn said. “We do mobility stuff and drills and play intrasquad games. Next week, all the draftees are split up in a couple of teams and play in the Gulf Coast League.”
The Gulf Coast League is a rookie-level Minor League Baseball league that operates in Florida. Together with the Arizona League, it forms the lowest rung on the North American minor-league ladder.
He grew up a Crosby kid, playing baseball basically since he was in diapers, Hearn said, and he watched as the Cougars program provided him with the role models that would send him on his path.
“It’s my favorite thing to do,” Hearn said. “My dad taught me a lot about the game. My role model was J.R. Towles – he was basically the first to get drafted and make a name for himself. When he was in the whole Astros organization and I liked watching him. The whole town of Crosby would be at Minute Maid Park watching him at home games. I said, ‘Dude that’s awesome.’”
Towles played catcher 10 years professionally for various organizations and was drafted out of junior college.
Hearn also followed Crosby pitcher Jeremy Gabryszwski who was drafted right out of high school and last played professionally in 2016.
Hearn became a catcher for Crosby before playing in the outfield in college for Sam Houston State.
“I went there as a pitcher, but I got the yips, where I couldn’t throw the ball to the catcher,” he said. “So, they put me in outfield where I had never played in my life, but I could throw the ball hard. I can make plays too. I went out there and made the best of it.”
Hearn graduated this spring – with a degree in construction management – and was a member of the Bearkats team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2016 and 2017 and had winning seasons all four years.
His time in college and the year spent there may benefit Hearn going forward.
“You go to college, it’s like learning another language,” Hearn said. “It’s like night and day compared to high school. I am seeing that now. It doesn’t matter what round you are drafted – once you get here, everybody has a clean slate. Where I may have an edge is I played a pretty tough schedule all four years at Sam and so I’ve seen a high level of baseball, where some of these kids are better athletes than I am, but they are coming out of high school and haven’t had been put in the situations I’ve been in.
“I’ve been playing baseball 22 years and I learned something new today I had never heard of in my life.”
His life may or may not include baseball potentially past this year even, but it is still a moment Hearn will cherish.
“It’s an accomplishment,” he said. “It will be something I will be able to tell my kids about someday.”