Sam Coonrod has wanted to be a professional baseball player since he was five years old. Friday afternoon, that dream became a reality when he was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the fifth round of the MLB Draft with the 148th overall selection.
“I couldn’t really describe it,” Coonrod said on being drafted. “I thought I would know what it felt like because I knew it was going to happen, but once it happened I was still in a (state of) shock.”
However, even though he has been drafted and will be offered a professional contract, Coonrod knows there is a lot more work ahead of him.
“It is a great feeling,” Coonrod said. “But, I still have a long way to go to get where I want to be. So, it is just another step in the process and I can’t wait to get going.”
Coonrod found out his destination from his advisor, Sam Samardzija who was called by the Giants.
“He said congrats,” Coonrod said. “The Giants took you and they are going to give you slot value. All your hard work has paid off and the Giants are a great organization to go to.”
That hard work has seen Coonrod pitch for Southern Illinois University Carbondale for the last three years. During that time, Coonrod has a record of 8-17 with a 3.86 ERA over 228.1 innings of work with 199 strikeouts. As a junior, Coonrod went 2-6 with a 2.87 ERA and 77 strikeouts over 84.2 innings pitched.
“I am going to miss my coaches and the players I played with,” Coonrod said. “I played with a bunch of great guys.”
During his time at SIU, Coonrod spent the summers playing in wood bat leagues for college prospects. Following his freshman year, he pitched for the Quincy Gems of the Prospect League. Last year, following his sophomore year, the right hander pitched for the Yardmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod League.
“It helped me a lot,” Coonrod said of his time with Quincy and Yardmouth-Dennis. “Just interacting with the other players helps you a lot. You learn a lot from other players, their input on what they do and things like that.”
During his high school years, Coonrod pitched for Carrollton High School. As a senior, he was 11-0 with a 1.35 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched as he helped lead his team, the Carrollton Hawks, to a state championship. Coonrod and the Hawks finished the 2010/2011 season 31-1 overall. For his high school career, Coonrod was 16-3 with 213 strikeouts in 120.2 innings of work.
Coonrod acknowledged it has taken a lot of work to get to where he is today.
“It has been a very long process for me,” Coonrod said. “I had a lot of struggles along the way and things like that. I just kept going and grinding it out. I kept telling myself that I would get through it.”
While Coonrod hopes to continue on as a starting pitcher, he is ready to do what the Giants need of him.
“I am up for whatever,” Coonrod said. “Honestly, I would like to start, but if they say you are going to the bullpen, I am not going to be mad. I will just make the most of whatever opportunity I get.”
While Coonrod hails from Cardinals’ country in the Midwest, his favorite player is surprisingly a former San Francisco Giant, Brian Wilson. Coonrod hopes to be able to wear 38 like Wilson did when he was with the Giants.
“I took 38 in college because Brian Wilson was No. 38,” Coonrod said. “He was a Giant when I picked that number.”
Leading up to the draft, Coonrod spent time with his family. Once he was drafted, his father made the hour long trek to Alton, Illinois.
“The first thing my dad did,” Coonrod said, “he talked to quite a few people on the phone and then, about a half hour later he went to Alton and bought a Giants hat. They are very excited.”
Even though he is heading off to fulfill his lifetime dream, Coonrod said he is not giving up on completing his college degree. He has one year left to graduate and plans to finish, but it will be a slow process.
“I will finish it, slowly, online,” Coonrod said. “One class at a time, but I will finish.”