The Washington Post

Mets draft Gonzaga’s Morabito, who plans to sign; two local pitchers wait on

- BY JACOB RICHMAN

Nick Morabito had to wait longer than he expected to hear his name called during the MLB draft.

Almost 20 minutes after midnight, barely into Monday morning, former big league outfielder Rajai Davis announced on MLB Network’s telecast that the New York Mets selected the Gonzaga College High outfielder with the 75th pick.

“It was just hard to even think at that moment with everything happening,” Morabito said. “It was pretty surreal.”

For as long as he had to wait — into Round 2C, a compensato­ry round just before the third full round — Morabito was surrounded by friends and family. His family knows the world of baseball well and was key to Morabito becoming a Day 1 selection.

His father, Brian, played at James Madison. His uncle John — also Morabito’s hitting coach — competed at Wake Forest before being drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 1987. And his brother, Chris, just put the finishing touches on his junior season with their hometown Mclean High.

“Those guys are my backbone. They’re who I rely on, not just baseball-wise but mentally,” Morabito said. “They’ve been with me this whole journey.”

Morabito said having his family so involved in his baseball career showed him what it’s like to love the game.

It all came to fruition this week. Morabito said the Mets sent his agent an initial offer that he turned down, but a new offer a few picks later had Morabito ready to go.

Morabito told The Washington Post he plans to sign, and in doing so, he will forgo his commitment to Virginia Tech. The slot value for the 75th pick is $873,300.

Morabito, at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, shot up draft boards this spring after a big senior year with Gonzaga, where he led the team to Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and D.C. State Athletic Associatio­n titles. After the DCSAA victory, Morabito rushed to the airport; he had a workout with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field the next day.

Scouts also came to the D.C. area to see him, including the Mets’ Joe Raccuia, with whom Morabito said he had a strong relationsh­ip. Morabito knew the team up Interstate 95 was high on his ability as a plus runner with the potential to hit for power.

After batting .545 with 12 home runs and 52 stolen bases, Morabito was named D.C. Gatorade player of the year and earned first-team All-met honors. An invite to the combine in San Diego and workouts in a handful of major league parks had Morabito thinking, “There’s a chance this might be able to happen.”

Going into the draft, his defensive position was in question; he played most of his senior season in the outfield but had plenty of reps in the middle infield. During a Zoom call Sunday night, the Mets said they want Morabito to play center field.

At the end of the week, Morabito will head to the Mets’ rookie facilities in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He said he’s excited to get the next stage of his career going.

A pair of area pitchers who were Day 2 hopefuls were left waiting until Tuesday, when the draft will resume with rounds 11 through 20.

Jack O’connor, a 6-5 righthande­r from O’connell, earned a trip to the combine and pitched to a 0.83 ERA this season. He had 70 strikeouts, and opponents batted .126 against the University of Virginia commit, whose fastball regularly sits between 92 and 94 mph.

“All my life I’ve been geared toward living this major league lifestyle and just knowing I’m going to be a major league baseball player,” O’connor said recently. “I’ve been set on it since a very young age.”

Griffin Stieg, a right-hander from Mclean, competed in the Future Stars Series and closed his high school career with a strong senior season in which he struck out 93 batters in 542/ in

3 nings to go with a 0.90 ERA. Stieg is committed to Virginia Tech.

 ?? Tommy Gilligan for The Washington Post ?? The Mets sent Nick Morabito’s agent an initial offer that he turned down, but a new offer a few picks later had Morabito ready to go.
Tommy Gilligan for The Washington Post The Mets sent Nick Morabito’s agent an initial offer that he turned down, but a new offer a few picks later had Morabito ready to go.

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