Jesuit baseball star Mick Abel has just gone where no Oregon high school player has gone in a very long time — the first round of the Major League Baseball draft.
Abel, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound right-handed flamethrower who just graduated from Jesuit High School, was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies with the 15th pick in the first round of the MLB draft on Wednesday, June 10.
In the process, he became the first Oregon high school player selected in the first round of the MLB draft since 1994, when the Kansas City Royals selected Grants Pass left-handed pitcher Matt Smith with the 16th overall pick. Before that, you have to go all the way back to 1977 for the next most recent Oregon first-rounder — Aloha's Wally Backman — who was picked 16th by the New York Mets.
Looking ahead to the MLB draft during an interview with Grant Paulsen on MLB Radio's Minors and Majors show, Abel admitted to being a bit overwhelmed by the process, while enjoying it at the same time.
"It's kind of surreal for me. I never pictured myself being in the position I am today," Abel told Paulsen. "I think I owe the circles around me a lot of credit — my family my parents, my brother and everybody I've been fortunate to work with these last few years. It's kind of surreal being in this sort of position. It's definitely stressful, but at the same time, I really enjoy the process."
Abel put himself in prime position for the 2020 MLB draft by absolutely dominating the opposition during his high school career at Jesuit. While his senior year was wiped out by the shutdown of Oregon schools in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was unstoppable as a junior. In the 2019 spring season, Abel went 10-0 with a 1.26 earned run average and 111 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings while helping the Crusaders win the Class 6A state championship.
Following his stellar junior campaign, Abel was named first-team all-Metro League, Metro League Pitcher of the Year, first-team all-state, Class 6A Pitcher of the Year, Baseball Player of the Year by the Oregon Sports Awards, and Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year.
Needless to say, Jesuit baseball coach Colin Griffin is a huge fan after enjoying a front-row seat to witness Abel's high school exploits.
"He's a physical-looking kid with a high leg kick. The ball always comes off his hand easy," Griffin said. "His fastball and slider have always been there, and now he's working on his changeup and curve."
For his high school career, Abel went 18-3 overall with a 1.98 ERA. He struck out 213 batters and allowed just 83 hits in 150 2/3 innings, while holding opponents to a .150 batting average.
Abel, who also works with former OSU star Kevin Gunderson at Gunderson Baseball in West Linn, is known for his four-seam fastball — which has been clocked at nearly 100 miles per hour — and his slider. But Griffin said that Abel has continued to work and improve, expanding his repertoire by developing both his changeup and his curveball.
Abel has committed to play at Oregon State, but as a first-round choice, he's in line for a $3.89 million bonus. Abel was the first high school pitcher selected in the MLB draft and the fourth high schooler overall.
This year's draft was limited to five rounds — rather than the normal 40 rounds — with the second through fifth rounds scheduled for Thursday, June 11.
"It's everything I've ever dreamed of, to play professional baseball," Abel told Paulsen in May. "I've been thinking about it ever since I was little. To see how far I've come from the days when I first started thinking about it to where I am now, it's pretty insane to think about it."
Regardless of where Abel ends up next year — as a freshman at Oregon State or in spring training with the Phillies — Griffin knows that Abel will continue to be the same solid, respectful, hard-working young man who grew up on the fields and classrooms at Jesuit High School.
"As good of a pitcher as he is, he's an even better leader and teammate and friend," Griffin said.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.