PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WTVM) - The opening day of the three-day Major League Baseball Draft got underway on Thursday with baseball prospects hanging onto their cell phones waiting for the call they've been dreaming about all their lives.
Central High School outfielder Jamal Howard was joined the crowd, hoping to be one of the thousand-plus amateur players to get their chance at a pro career.
Howard is certainly on the radar. He hit .345 his senior year with eight homers, 25 RBI, and 27 runs scored in 28 games. He's heard a lot of things from pro scouts, but isn't setting his stock in what they've told him.
"Quite a few have talked to me," Howard said. "They've been talking rounds and numbers. Things aren't set in because they can't really tell me much because of the draft, so they have to wait until I get my name called on the board."
With all the uncertainty, he said he's doing his best to not get too worked up.
"I'm thinking about it a lot," said Howard, "but I'm just going to let it play by ear, see what happens. I'm going to have my phone by me waiting for a call. I'm hoping to get a call pretty soon, but I just gotta wait and see what happens."
Howard finds himself in a win-win situation. If he doesn't get the kind of draft position and offer he wants, he has a baseball scholarship from the University of Alabama waiting for him.
"You can't lose in this situation," Howard pointed out. "You either go out of high school, or go to Alabama first, then go as a three-year. I talked to Coach Gaspard and Coach Andy Phillips and they've been telling me, 'Man, just do what's best for you.' They're not trying to push me to go to Alabama or push me to go to the pros, they just want me to feel comfortable in the right decision I'm making. I told them at the end of the day, depending on what happened if I can get what I want or don't get what I want, I told 'em 'Roll Tide.'
Howard didn't get a call on the first day, which was limited to the first two rounds.