A split second is all it takes to transition from a college baseball player to a professional athlete.
That’s how it happened for Trent Howard, a former Central Michigan pitcher, and now a pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles.
He was watching the Major League Baseball draft down in the basement of one of his brothers’ houses, but the stress level went up and so did Howard.
He couldn’t bare to watch any longer.
“We were all in the basement watching it on one of those big TVs and I was too nervous to stick around and keep watching it, so I actually went upstairs,” he said.
And then it happened a split second later.
As soon as he walked upstairs, he knew he was drafted.
A split second later and he was a professional baseball player.
“I literally was upstairs for a minute and everybody just started cheering and going nuts,” he said. “So I was like, oh well, I guess I was picked.”
And he was spot on with his assumption.
Howard was selected in the seventh round by the Orioles.
A split second later he became famous.
Howard was on the phone with a scout from the Orioles’ staff, but was interrupted by phone calls and at least 10 text messages, but rightfully so.
“Everything was breaking up and it was a really awkward conversation actually,” he said about his conversation with the scout.
Nonetheless, it was a huge relief for the left-handed pitcher.
Originally, he was told he could go anywhere from the fifth to eighth round, but as the draft grew near, his projection focused-in to a fifth or sixth round selection and top 200 overall.
“I was listening to the draft and I heard it was the end of the sixth round and I knew that was around 210 picks, so I was like oh man, I’m already falling behind,” he said. “How far am I going to fall now?”
Howard didn’t have to worry too much longer as he was selected four picks into the seventh round, but it didn’t stop him from wondering, “What if?”
The idea of becoming a Brady Quinn scared the Hammond, Ind. native.
The thought of falling to the 15th round wandered into his mind.
While it wasn’t what he expected — in more ways than one — he’s thankful for the opportunity.
It wasn’t the round he anticipated going, but it also wasn’t the team.
“The Orioles were actually one of the team’s that laid low on how much they liked me,” Howard said. “There were six teams that I felt like if anybody was going to take me, it would be one of them, but when I found out it was Baltimore, I was a little surprised. They showed some interest, but not a whole heck of a lot.”
Details of a contract will be discussed with Howard in the next couple of days, but he has an idea of where he’ll be playing baseball in the near future.
The Orioles’ organization has two single-A baseball teams located in Maryland. He could wind up there or on their rookie ball team in Florida.
Howard had the opportunity to speak with his former manager Steve Jaksa and assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Jeff Opalewski pre and post draft. The pre-draft talk kept Howard calm. The post-draft was celebratory.
“He expressed how happy he was for me,” Howard said. “Coach O actually did that too. Both of them seemed very, very happy for me. Those kinds of coaches want to see their players succeed.”