By nature, catchers are control freaks. They handle pitchers and set defenses.
For now, former Live Oak catcher Blaise Priester is locked in on things he can control. The MLB draft that begins Sunday is not one of them.
“I’m going in a little blind, because I am not sure how you process all of this,” Priester said. “It’s kind of weird, but at the same time it is a once in a lifetime thing coming out of high school.
“I am very excited and a little nervous too. I am anxious to see how it works out the next couple of days.”
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Priester earned Class 5A all-state honors for the Eagles after hitting .426 with 10 home runs, eight doubles, six triples and 44 RBIs. He batted leadoff and also threw out 12 of 22 runners.
Multiple draft projections have the Meridian Community College signee among the players to be drafted Monday, the second day of the draft when MLB teams complete rounds 2-10 of the 20-round draft process.
Priester is mentioned in pre-draft chatter on multiple websites as a Day 2 choice and is ranked among the top 175 draft-eligible players. Since the prep season ended, Priester has done individual workouts for the Rangers, Dodgers and Astros.
“I talked to a lot of scouts and enjoyed going through those workouts with individual teams,” Priester said. “It was a chance for me to learn about the teams and to get ideas about things I can work on and grow from.”
Recent drafts have been a mixed bag for high school prospects. In 2017, St. Amant pitcher Blayne Enlow was drafted in the third round and opted to sign with the Twins instead of going to LSU. In 2019, infielder Cade Doughty of Denham Springs was projected in the Day 2 conversation for weeks but was selected in the 39th round of a larger draft. Doughty has been a two-year starter at LSU.
“In my 20 years of coaching, I have not coached a five-tool player like Blaise,” LOHS coach Jesse Cassard said. “He had an incredible senior season. He has a lot of God-given talent that he has worked hard to develop. I am hoping he gets drafted Monday and gets what he deserves, a chance to play professional baseball (now).”
Depending on what happens, Priester could wind up at Meridian and get drafted again next year. Priester said he and his parents, Joshua and Vannessa, have enlisted some advisors for the draft process.
Rather than stress, Priester focuses on morning workouts and South Collegiate League games, some of which are played in Hammond at Southeastern. On the days he does not have games, Priester puts in added hitting and throwing work. He keeps a steady routine.
“No one in my family has had the chance to go this far in any sport,” Priester said. “We have to see how this plays out.”