Not getting drafted didn't kill the professional baseball dream of Soldotna's Chris Mabeus. It only made it stronger.
"I've never been more motivated to go up there and absolutely kick butt," Mabeus, 21, said. "I'd like to prove to everybody who passed me over that they were wrong."
Mabeus was drafted in the 37th round of the 1999 Major League Baseball draft by the Boston Red Sox. However, Mabeus elected not to sign with Boston in hopes of improving his position in the draft this year.
Pitching for Lewis-Clark State College, Mabeus went 11-0 with a 3.05 ERA, striking out 29 and walking 18.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior logged the most victories and second-most innings on a Warriors team that won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship in early June.
"He was at least as good, or better, than any other pitcher on our staff," said Lewis-Clark head assistant Denny Barrett.
The stage seemed to be set for Mabeus to improve his position in the 2000 draft. Mabeus and his college coaches had been in contact with nearly all the big league teams. Mike Baxter, the baseball operations manager for the Peninsula Oilers, also figured he would lose Mabeus to the draft.
But then Monday and Tuesday came and went without Mabeus getting "the call." Welcome to the mystifying world of the Major League Baseball draft.
"I would have thought Chris would have been drafted," said Oilers manager Gary Adcock, who has coached Mabeus for two seasons. "If you ever meet anybody who has figured out the draft, tell me who it is. I'd love to meet him.
"As soon as you think you've figured out the draft, you haven't."
Barrett also was surprised as he watched pitchers get snatched up who, in his opinion, were equal to or inferior to Mabeus.
"I'm kind of still wondering what happened," Barrett said. "There are so many reasons something like that happens."
The bright side is Mabeus' boyhood dream of playing professional baseball is not dead.
"I told Chris not to worry about it," Adcock said. "He can't think too much about it or it will affect his pitching."
Mabeus now has the opportunity to play his third summer with the Oilers -- an organization whose players he grew up idolizing.
Playing with the Oilers should put Mabeus in front of a flock of scouts at the Anchorage Bucs Wood Bat Invitational and, if the Oilers make it, at the National Baseball Congress World Series.
He could sign a free agent deal at the end of the summer, or he could go back and hunt for another national championship at Lewis-Clark.
"We're really glad to have him," Baxter said. "We feel bad he didn't get drafted, but he could still sign as a free agent or he could go get his degree.
"He still has good options."
Adcock, who is the pitching coach at Purdue University and has coached at least 30 pitchers on to pro ball, believes Mabeus has the skills to be a pro.
"Chris has got enough fastball and he has an out pitch in the split finger," said Adcock of Mabeus, who throws in the low 90s. "He's cleaned up his slider and that's a little better.
"At this point he has to work on getting better with his control and being consistent with velocity."
Mabeus said he is looking forward to working with Adcock for another summer. It was the pitching coach who got Mabeus to experiment with different arm angles in the summer of 1998. That experiment gave Mabeus the velocity that got him drafted in 1999.
"He's an awesome pitching coach," Mabeus said. "I'd like to spend this summer learning a change-up."
Adcock said he would like Mabeus to be a starter in the Oilers rotation. Mabeus will be on the hill when the Oilers take on the Oceanside Waves in their opener at 7 p.m. tonight.
"He's a real motivated kid who understands the draft," Barrett said. "He's mature and he's dealing with this the right way.
"I don't have a negative thing to say about Chris. This will give him more incentive to come back and have a great year."
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