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Column

Former Raider Stover drafted by Nationals

Following the Major League Baseball draft is not easy. The players are largely unknown by the common baseball fan and there are so many rounds that it’s hard to focus in on every single pick.

That’s what happened to me last week. And as I scrolled through Twitter on June 5, I stumbled upon a tweet that mentioned former CMB standout pitcher Brady Stover.

Stover was drafted in the 31st round by the Washington Nationals last week. He was the 933rd pick overall.

Being drafted is a dream come true for any athlete. It doesn’t matter the sport, seeing your name being selected by a professional sports team has to be a thrill.

Stover cruised his way through the Class 2A postseason as a senior at CMB. The Raiders made their first state appearance in large part because Stover simply didn’t allow opponents to score runs.

He struck out at least 15 batters in every district and substate game that season and had at least 18 strikeouts in three of those games. He nearly pitched the Raiders to a state-tournament win, but Carroll Kuemper had a few too many horses in a 3-2, eight-inning win at Principal Park.

I knew back then that Stover had a shot to be drafted someday. First, he throws left handed and those guys always have a shot. Second, he threw hard back then and most prep hitters just didn’t stand a chance if the balls were thrown in the zone. His fastest pitch recorded since high school has reached 94 miles per hour.

I am very happy for Stover. He’s a great kid with a great family. I reached out to Stover and his family to see what his future plans were. He’s only a junior and can return to South Dakota State if he chooses to.

Stover’s father Wes told me the intention for Stover was to begin his professional career. I later read in a few articles online that Stover himself said he and his agent are working on a contract with the Nationals.

If a contract cannot be agreed upon, Stover intends to return to South Dakota State for his senior season.

“I’ll sign and go wherever they send me,” Stover told the Ames Tribune. “It’d be a dream to pitch in the major leagues some day.”

Stover had an injury-plagued junior season. He went 1-4 this season in limited action. After striking out nine batters in five shutout innings, Stover made two more starts before missing six weeks because of an injury. He pitched mostly out of the bullpen when he returned.

As a sophomore, Stover set a Jackrabbit single-season record with an average of 13.09 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, fanning 63 batters in 43 1/3 innings, while turning in a 3-2 record.

Stover is the 15th Jackrabbit baseball player to be selected in the MLB Draft since 1966, with 11 of the picks being pitchers. The most notable draftee from South Dakota State is Blake Treinen, the current closer for the Oakland Athletics.

Stover found out about his selection from former teammates, according to a Brookings Register article written by Andrew Holtan.

“It’s a funny story,” Stover said in the article. “I was at a golf simulator, having an off day and I didn’t really check my phone much of the day. I looked at my phone and some of my teammates from my freshman summer ball team, the San Diego Wave, were Snapchat messaging me and congratulating me. So then I went on the MLB draft tracker and saw my name.”

If Stover were to get signed by the Nationals he would likely start out with the Hagerstown Suns, Washington’s Class-A team in Hagerstown, Md., or the Auburn Doubledays, which is their Class-A Short-season team in Auburn, N.Y.

Stover wasn’t the only former CMB Raider making news this week.

Stover’s former teammate, Bryce Kemp, begins his senior season with the Eastern Michigan football team and Kemp is listed as a starting tight end on a depth chart tweeted out by former CMB and current Baxter football coach Rob Luther.

Kemp played mostly special teams in 2016 but started five games at tight end in 2017 and 2018. He appears to be the No. 1 tight end heading into his final season.

Could he be a future draft pick, too?

To be continued.

Contact Troy Hyde at thyde@newtondailynews.com

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