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Cubs take Messinger in MLB draft

 

Photo by Ed Navarro Skye Messinger hits a high fastball for Niwot High. Messinger was drafted in the 22nd round of the MLB draft by the Chicago Cubs.

The defending world champion Chicago Cubs have had their eye on Niwot High shortstop Skye Messinger since last summer, and liked what they saw. On the third day of major league baseball’s draft of amateur players, the Cubs selected Messinger in the 22nd round.

“We knew it was a possibility,” Messinger said of his family’s eye on the draft. “We didn’t know where, but I was ready for anything.” Messinger had heard stories of players who had been told they would be drafted in the first 10 rounds not being drafted at all, and he had heard of players taken much earlier in the draft than expected.

“The Cubs were one of the teams I was closest too,” he said. “They were the first team to reach out to me.” Cubs scout Steve McFarland, a former minor league manager for the Cubs, first saw Messinger play after his junior year in high school when he played for summer team Game Day out of Parker.

“He sent me a questionnaire in the mail and I filled it out and sent it back. He also saw me in Arizona [with the Niwot High School team], in the fall, and in the Futures Game, and then in the spring.” Messinger’s performance in the Futures Game last summer, when he homered in Coors Field with a wood bat against the best competition in the state must have made an impression.

A total of 13 major league organizations sent Messinger a questionnaire to fill out, but the Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, who faced each other in the World Series last year, showed the most interest.

After the draft Messinger was contemplating whether to sign with the Cubs or play baseball at the University of Kansas where he has a scholarship. “I go back and forth,” he said on Saturday after the draft. “I’m still figuring it out.”

Messinger did all the right things in evaluating the Cubs’ offer, which includes a $125,000 signing bonus plus the cost of a college education in the offseason. The Cubs’ offer shows the respect they have for Messinger’s skills as it is the maximum money allowed for a player selected after the 10th round.

“I’ve talked to as many people as I can,” Messinger said, including his older brother Connor Messinger, who played college baseball and served as an assistant coach at Niwot High this spring. Skye Messinger’s former summer baseball coach Colt Sedbrook, who played minor league baseball, is another resource he has consulted in making a decision.

“I’ve talked to my brother a lot, and the guys he’s been around,” Skye said. One of those mentors Connor spoke to is Mike Moat, a Niwot grad and former pitching coach who was drafted out of high school by the Rangers but opted to play college baseball at San Diego State where Tony Gwynn was a coach instead. Moat was drafted again after his junior year of college, which is the next time he was eligible for the draft, then signed with the Chicago White Sox and played four years of minor league baseball before an arm injury shortened his career.

Skye Messinger also called David Bote, son of former Niwot High baseball coach Bob Bote, who was drafted by the Cubs after one year of junior college baseball and is now an All-Star second baseman for the AA Tennessee Smokies in the Cubs’ minor league system.

Messinger has also had some fun during the experience, noting that the MLB.com draft information listed him at 295 pounds. The lanky 6’3” infielder noted that someone must have typed a “2” instead of a “1.”

Messinger was the 675th player drafted overall, and the ninth position player selected by the Cubs. Only three players selected by the Cubs ahead of him were high school players, and two were from Puerto Rico. “I just want to say how thankful I am to have this opportunity,” he said last Friday. “I’m truly blessed. I wouldn’t have this chance without my family, my teammates and my coaches.”

In the end, Messinger decided to go to college. “It was definitely the hardest decision I’ve had to make,” he said late Monday night. “Through talking it over with my family and coaches and praying a lot on it, I decided not to sign and go on to KU. But I’m so grateful to be drafted and feel very blessed about the whole thing.”

Messinger is the sixth player from Niwot High School to be drafted by MLB, joining Mike Hoog, Mike Moat, Matt Barker, Pat Perry and Sean Ratliff in the elite class.

 

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