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Greg DeVillers / Forum Communications Co., Published June 10 2012

Brewers select Mayville State pitcher in MLB draft

MAYVILLE, N.D. – Nick Anderson had his own baseball backup plan.

The right-handed pitcher completed his college eligibility at Mayville State last month. He had professional baseball aspirations. If Major League Baseball organizations showed no interest in him, Anderson planned to try out with independent teams such as the St. Paul Saints or Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.

“I was looking at my options in case the draft didn’t work out,” the 21-year-old Anderson said. “You just never know what will happen. But I thought I had a shot at being taken in the draft.”

That chance became reality Wednesday. On the third day of baseball’s amateur draft, the Milwaukee Brewers selected Anderson. He was selected in the 32nd round, the 995th player to be chosen in the three-day, 40-round draft.

Now Anderson is waiting at his family’s home in Brainerd, Minn., for details to be worked out on a contract. As a senior and a low-round selection, Anderson doesn’t anticipate a big signing bonus. What he’s thankful for is the opportunity.

“Being a senior, you don’t have any (negotiating) leverage,” Anderson said. “They offer you a contract and you can take it or leave it. I just want the opportunity to play. Then the sky can be the limit.

“Milwaukee was the team that showed me the most attention. The week before the draft, they had me come to Milwaukee and throw in front of a lot of their scouts. I was hoping I was going to get picked up by them.”

The draft is the start of Anderson’s pro career. It also capped a whirlwind road to the pros.

After graduating from Brainerd in 2008, Anderson played at St. Cloud State for three years. Anderson said things didn’t work out for him in St. Cloud. So he decided to transfer to Mayville and reunite with Comets assistant Pete Pratt, who was the pitching coach during Anderson’s freshman and sophomore seasons.

Mayville State coach Scott Berry estimates it’s been approximately 12 years since a Comets player last was selected in the Major League Baseball draft. He says he can’t remember the last time a Comet garnered the interest the pros showed in Anderson, a 6-foot-5, 190-pounder.

This spring, Anderson had a 1.95 earned run average, striking out 70 batters in 60 innings while walking only nine.

“That’s almost unheard of, a kid who throws that hard and pounds the strike zone like that,” Berry said. “He has the whole package — the highest I heard was he hit 96 (mph) on the radar gun, and he has a good curve and change to go with his outstanding fastball. He ranks up there with the best I’ve had.

“It’s not a surprise Nick was drafted, not at all. When it comes to the draft, you never know what’s going to happen. But Nick is a very talented young man.”

Scouts frequented Comets games when Anderson pitched. He occasionally saw the radar guns fixed on him. For the most part, however, Anderson was oblivious to the talent scouts.

“I tried to block them out,” Anderson said. “I wanted to focus on the game. I get locked in when I’m out there. The mound is almost like a happy place for me. All you’re thinking about out there is the game, just throwing the ball.”

DeVillers writes for the Grand Forks Herald