Shortstop Braden Shewmake’s entrance into professional baseball has been a long time coming.
With family and friends gathered in College Station to watch the first round of the MLB draft on Monday, the Aggie shortstop made everyone with him wait a little bit longer before learning he would become the 21st overall pick by the Atlanta Braves.
“He knew, but he wasn’t going to tell anybody,” said Shewmake’s father Shane, who is the head baseball coach at Texas-Dallas. “He hid it well, and it was a surprise to everybody else in the room but him.”
Around pick No. 16, Braden Shewmake received a call, which he took in a separate room. He returned only to take another call around pick 20. It wasn’t until his name was announced on the MLB Network broadcast that the room erupted.
“I had no idea what was going to happen to be honest with you,” Braden Shewmake said. “I got a call from a couple of people I was working with that told me that the Braves were going to take me when they did. Then I got a call the next pick from their general manager, saying they had sealed the deal. I was in a room by myself at that point, so I was jumping up and down. I played it cool going back out and didn’t let anybody know what was going to happen. It was really cool and a super special feeling.”
Braden Shewmake’s relationship with baseball began on the diamond at Texas-Dallas, where his father has coached since 2002. He was exposed to college baseball on a daily basis, fielding pop flies and playing catch with players more than twice his age.
“When he was probably 12 or 13, I was like, if somebody walked up, they wouldn’t be able to tell you were a 12-year-old,” Shane Shewmake said. “They wouldn’t be able to pick out who was on my team and who wasn’t.”
The younger Shewmake passed on the chance to begin a professional career after high school, seeing the benefit of a minimum of three years in Aggieland. He used that time to hit over .300 in all three seasons at A&M. Shewmake missed just one of 189 games at A&M while collecting 161 RBIs and 248 hits.
With the chance of being a high draft pick looming, his junior campaign began slowly with a batting average that hit a low of .185 two weeks into the season. But he recovered to post a .327 average with 32 RBIs.
“You can’t let that consume you, because the more you try to press, the harder it is and this league is hard enough as it is,” Shewmake said. “I found that out through the first couple of weeks. I didn’t play very well because I was trying to focus too much on other things instead of just playing baseball with my teammates.”
Shewmake is the first A&M player to earn a first-round selection since Tyler Naquin and Michael Wacha in 2012. He is slotted to earn $3.13 million.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be a Brave,” Shewmake said. “That’s a great organization, and I grew up going to games when I would go out to Atlanta to play in tournaments. I can’t wait to get out there.”
Shewmake will join teammate Kasey Kalich in the Braves’ organization after the Aggie closer was taken in the fourth round Tuesday. In one season with A&M after transferring from Blinn, Kalich went 3-1 with 12 saves and a 3.18 ERA.
“I get to go with a teammate, and that’s always fun,” Shewmake said. “It’s a guy you are familiar with. Kasey is a hard-working kid, and he’s got great stuff. His stuff is definitely going to play at the next level, so it’s going to be really fun to play behind him, and I know what they’re going to get out of the kid.”
They join starter John Doxakis as the three Aggies taken in the first two days of the 2019 draft. The lefty ace was selected in the second round (61st overall) by the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday after he endured a sleepless Sunday night.
“I found out probably four picks before, and that was about it,” Doxakis said. “That’s why it was so emotional. You’re sitting there for about five hours going through the first round and the second round and then getting late in the second round. Then it just hits you. It’s awesome.”
The junior went 7-4 with a 2.06 ERA while striking out 115 batters this season. He said he has already talked to former Aggie pitcher Corbin Martin about life in the big leagues after Martin was called up by the Houston Astros this season.
“It’s weird thinking Corbin was here two years ago and we were running around with him and now you look at him,” Doxakis said. “You just think of those times. I’ve gone to see him pitch a couple of times, and you know it’s not unachievable, which is cool. You know there is still a chance. I’m just ready to get after it.”
Both Doxakis and Shewmake said they wouldn’t have reached that next level if it weren’t for A&M and the coaching staff.
“This place is so special, and every one of these guys have become my best friends,” Shewmake said. “It’s tough leaving them. That’s for sure. At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for yourself, and I think that Dox and I — and Kasey for that mater — got great opportunities, and we’re looking forward to going out and trying something new.”