As the final rounds of the 2018 Major League Baseball draft were broadcast over the internet and other social media outlets, Blue Springs High School graduate Caleb Marquez could slowly feel his dream slipping away.
The big catcher, with major league dreams, had been watching the final day of the draft, hoping beyond hope that he would be selected by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Brewers Midwest scout Drew Anderson told Marquez that he was on the Brewers’ radar. The team even invited him to a special tryout last week in which the recent graduate slugged six homers, tattooed the outfield wall with a half dozen more bombs and was nearly flawless behind the plate.
But the draft features 40 rounds, and the 36th, 37th and 38th rounds came and went, the talk in the Marquez household began to focus on the importance of him putting up big numbers at Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kansas, so he could possibly get another shot at the draft down the road.
Then, in the 39th round, Marquez looked at his cell phone and saw his name. At the exact moment, his father Jeff looked at his cell phone and called out, “Caleb Marquez! Milwaukee Brewers!”
He had been taken with pick No. 1,175 overall.
That’s when the tears began to flow.
Marquez’s mother, Amber Shawhan, ran over to her son and gave him a hug that seemed to last a lifetime. His father simply smiled, with misty eyes looking at his son’s name on his cell phone.
Sometimes, dreams do come true.
Just ask Marquez and his family.
“I saw his name seconds before they announced it (on the family’s home computer) and I can’t even tell you what I felt – it was an amazing feeling, just amazing,” Jeff said, as mom still had a tight hold of her son.
“I did not want to see him fail. And by fail, I mean, not get drafted. Being drafted was a dream and it’s hard when dreams don’t come true. I was preparing my speech about college and starting school and how he would still get another shot at the draft – and now, I don’t have to worry about that.”
While Caleb and Jeff sat at the kitchen table, Amber paced through the kitchen.
“I just couldn’t sit down, especially after it got to the 37th and 38th rounds,” Amber said. “Then, I saw the look on Caleb’s face when he looked at his phone. His eyes were so big! It was just a brief second or two before his dad called out his name – and I knew my son’s dream had come true.
“And to see your child’s dream come true is special.”
One reason Jeff Marquez believes Caleb’s name was not called until the 39th round was his success in football, as he starred at tight end and linebacker for the Wildcats, who made it all the way to the Class 6 state championship game.
“I think some teams thought of him as a football player,” Jeff said, “and that’s all right. We don’t care where he was selected. All we wanted was for him to get a chance. He could have played big time football – we visited Iowa and Missouri and other schools, but we knew that baseball was his sport.
“Now, he has the chance to show what he can do while he is living out his dream.”
Moments after his name was announced, Caleb received a congratulatory phone call from Brewers scout Drew Anderson, who kept an eye on the slugging Wildcat throughout his senior season.
“I thought Drew was going to give me a call before I was selected, so when I saw my name, I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t breath, it was just unreal,” said Marquez, who hit .379 with six doubles, six home runs 22 RBIs, a .632 slugging percentage and an 1.136 OPS (on base plus slugging) in his senior season for the Wildcats. “I was like, frozen, I didn’t know how to react. I couldn’t hear or see anything – it was like everything just blanked out on me.
“Then my mom came over and gave me a big hug and it was like, ‘This is real. This is really happening.’ And for the past few hours, I didn’t know if it was going to happen. It’s been a long day – a real long day.
“But it had a great ending.”
The best part of the “great ending” will come when Anderson visits the Marquez home this evening.
“Drew called right after everyone left,” Caleb said, “and he’s got some things to get done before he comes over to the house. I’m looking forward to him coming over and talking about my contract and becoming a part of the Brewers organization.”
Marquez wasn’t the only local player whose name was called in the MLB Draft Wednesday.
Former Blue Springs South all-state player and 2016 Examiner Baseball Player of the Year Tyler McKay was taken in the 16th round (No. 467 overall) by the Philadelphia Phillies. McKay had just transferred to Arizona State from Howard College in Texas.
Then former Blue Springs South all-state player and 2014 Examiner Player of the Year Colton Pogue went in the 29th round (No. 881 overall) to the Washington Nationals. Pogue just finished his senior year at Pittsburg State after transferring from Western Illinois.