Newton Rebels pitcher Zach Bravo became the latest member of the team with a chance to move up into the pro ranks.
Bravo was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday in the 29th round of the Major League Baseball draft, the 878th pick overall.
“It’s unbelievable,” Bravo said. “It’s become a reality. It’s something I worked for all of my life.”
Bravo is in his second year with the Rebels. He also finished his sophomore season with Butler Community College, where he pitched in 17 games this spring, 80 innings, going 7-4 with a 4.27 earned-run-average and 97 strikeouts.
He helped lead Butler to a 39-19 season, 22-10 in Jayhawk Conference play. He was an All-Jayhawk Conference West Second-Team selection.
“It went really well,” Bravo said of his spring season. “I had a real good jump in my velocity. I had a couple of good starts. I had a couple of complete games.”
Bravo has committed to play at Lamar University, an NCAA Division I school in Beaumont, Texas. He can sign with the Rays now, or he can continue to college and be eligible to be re-drafted at the end of his junior and senior season.
“I’m still committed to play at Lamar,” Bravo said. “They called me to say congratulations and that they would call me again in a couple of days. They will talk about numbers. I’m leaning towards school because of my draft pick. I’m waiting to hear about numbers.”
Bravo may have boosted his draft position after pitching a shutout at last year’s National Baseball Congress World Series and earning NBC All-America honors.
“I threw pretty close to a complete nine-inning game,” Bravo said. “I had a really good tournament there.”
If Bravo does sign, he would likely start in either rookie-league ball, rookie league advanced or short-season Class A.
Bravo said his goals for this summer are to work on technique.
“I just want to work on my fastball,” Bravo said. “I’ve been working on my slider. I’d like to get some saves for the Rebels and go on to the NBC.”