Hastings High ace Sam Wibbels was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 36th round of Major League Baseball’s Draft Wednesday.
“It’s awesome ( to be drafted). Ever since I was young, it’s been my goal to play Major League Baseball and to have that offer extended to me and to get on that path is just awesome. It’s a really humbling experience, and it’s a great honor,” he said.
Wibbels, who signed to play baseball at the University of Kentucky last fall, says two teams were on him all spring about potentially drafting him.
“I knew the Rangers and the Nationals were the two teams that were showing interest in that they were going to give me a pick. Both teams had been to many of my spring games, so they had had a good look at me,” Wibbels said.
But the Nationals were the ones who pulled the trigger with the 1,083rd pick.
Wibbels, after weighing his options, said his deciding factor to choose playing college baseball at the University of Kentucky, where he signed this fall, came down to the money.
“The Nationals called me and said they were willing to take me for $125,000 and I said ‘I’ll see you in three years. It’s a great opportunity, and I really appreciate it, but it’s just not enough money,’ “ the future Wildcat said.
Wibbels led the Tigers to their first state championship game appearance since the revival of the program three years ago, where they lost to Bennington and finished as runners-up. He led all of Class B with eight wins, and recorded 120 strikeouts in 10 starts. Wibbels struck out a season-high 18 batters against Lincoln Pius X this spring. He posted a 1.36 ERA and was also a threat at the plate in the Tigers' lineup.
“That was my favorite team I’ve ever played on in my four years of high school baseball,” Wibbels said. “I care about success on the field, and I hate losing, but just the relationships I developed with those guys will last forever.
“There’s great kids on that team and I think they have a chance to win it all next year, they’ve got a bunch of returning seniors.”
Wibbels will move to Lexington, Ky., in mid-June to get settled and familiar with his surroundings. He’ll start classes soon after he arrives, too.
“I’m excited because I’m going to see a whole new level of competition and that’s just awesome. Anywhere you can go increase your level of competition is a great opportunity,” Wibbels said. “Obviously I can get down there and in three years elevate my level of play enough to get drafted higher.”