June 17 is a day Marc Krauss will never forget.
For the Patrick Henry graduate and Ohio University junior, the day began with a morning flight out of Phoenix - and morning in this case was 3:30 a.m.
By the time the day ended, Krauss had officially become a professional baseball player, taking his first swings for the South Bend, Ind., Silver Hawks in the Class-A Midwest League.
"It was a long day," Krauss admitted in a phone interview yesterday. "I didn't even get to the park [at South Bend] until the second inning of the first game [of a doubleheader]. There wasn't much time to get nervous. It was a little nerve-wracking, but I think I'm going to have a fun summer.
"A little nerve-wracking, but a lot of fun" could also describe the road he took to the pros.
Scott Gardner / NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge
After graduating from Patrick Henry in 2006, Krauss had an
immediate impact at Ohio. He was named Mid-American Conference freshman of the year and All-MAC first team, finishing second in the league with a .389 batting average.
That's when Krauss put himself on the draft map with a standout performance in the prestigious Cape Cod League. The left-handed hitter led the league with 34 RBIs and finished fourth with a .344 batting average.
This season with the Bobcats, he earned MAC player-of-the-year honors by slamming 27 home runs with 70 RBIs and a fine .402 batting average and was All-MAC a third straight season.
Krauss, 21, recently was named first team All-America by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball magazines, and he is a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which is given annually to the top player in college baseball.
Despite his performance, there were questions as to where Krauss would be taken in the draft.
After catching in high school, Krauss has played first, third, and the outfield in college, and his position status further affected how scouts perceived him. Opinions varied• on whether Krauss wouldwould be taken in the first day of the draft, which covered three rounds, or if he would last until the second day of the three-day event.
"The 'tools' versus 'performance' debate is big in scouting circles right now," said Ben Hyman, founder and director of amateur scouting for Real Baseball Intelligence and author of the 2009 Baseball Draft Guide.
"Hitting is the most important tool, and it's Krauss' best tool, but the tools argument is that if the prospect doesn't have other tools, then it puts a lot of pressure on him to hit."
Krauss was selected by Arizona in the second round with the 64th overall pick.
"It was a pretty amazing feeling to hear my name called," Krauss said. "There was a lot of hype, a lot of build-up, and I was getting sick of it.
"It was tough to hear people say negative things about you. I know I'm not perfect; I know I need to work on my speed and improve my defense. But I tried to use those words to motivate myself, to make myself better."
Things moved quickly for Krauss after the draft ended. Last weekend he flew to Phoenix and signed a contract with the Diamondbacks that included a $550,000 signing bonus.
Then he took a tour of Arizona's Chase Field before taking batting practice before the club's contest against Houston Sunday.
"That whole weekend was awesome, a lot of fun," Krauss said. "I got to hang out with some of the guys on the big-league club and take BP with them.
"It was a pretty surreal moment, working out with guys you've been watching on TV."
A few days later, Krauss flew to South Bend to begin his climb to the majors. He played in the Silverhawks' second game and got his first professional hit, a double, in the team's 2-1 loss to Great Lakes.
"I'm going to be in the lineup again, and I'll be in left field," Krauss said before last night's game against Fort Wayne. "I'm going to work on playing that position as well as I can.
"I think this is the perfect setup: I'm only a couple of hours from home, and I can have friends and family here all summer."
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