by Alan Hieber
Note: As we prepare for this year's Major League Baseball Draft, we talked to a couple of Raiders drafted just a year ago. This year's draft is June 12-14.
The 2016 Major League Baseball draft was a historic one for Wright State with five Raiders being selected, a record for the program.
Two of those picks were pitchers Jesse Scholtens and Robby Sexton. They recently discussed what they've experienced in the past year of their professional baseball journeys.
For Scholtens, being chosen by the San Diego Padres in the ninth round had an added significance because he is a native of Fairfield, California.
“Being picked by a team in my home state makes it better because many of the affiliates and the Padres are close to home. My family can watch me more often,” Scholtens said.
The first destination for Scholtens in the Padres organization was the Tri-City Dust Devils in Pasco, Washington. He admits that with his arrival came a mix of excitement and nervousness as a result of not knowing what to expect.
Though playing at the next level can be daunting, Scholtens reminds himself what he is doing for a living.
“There are times when the traveling and everyday grind make you feel tired, but when you remember what you're doing for a living you can't help but continue to love every moment,” Scholtens said.
Scholtens says that the advice dispensed to him by his current teammates and coaches has started to give him an edge on the field.
“Trying to read hitters and comparing what I see to what others see opens me up to more weaknesses in hitters' swings,” Scholtens said.
The advice given and unwavering attitude displayed by Scholtens has paid off. Recently, he was called up to the Padres single A affiliate, the Lake Elsinore Storm in Lake Elsinore, California. He earned his first victory for his new team on May 27 with six innings of scoreless work.
“It's not what I anticipated growing up. I always thought this level was so advanced,” Scholtens said. “However, I'm at the same level the hitters are at. Keeping that in mind I treat each pitch like every other pitch, being aware that hitters are a little better as the level increases.”
Scholtens feels playing against some of the best teams and players in the country at WSU helped prepare him for where he is at today. He went on to offer a piece of advice for future Raiders who hope to go pro.
“Be patient. The season is long and the game is built off failure,” Scholtens said. “But if you stay level headed and have a good attitude everyday, it makes it less of a grind, and I think you'll find your successes occur more often.”
For Sexton, a weight was lifted off of his shoulders when the Red Sox called his name in the 14th round with the realization that his career would continue. He also expressed his sense of nervousness when joining his first team in the organization.
“There have been obstacles and learning curves, but the organization itself is incredible and does a great job with the players,” Sexton said. “The Red Sox give us access to the best baseball has to offer.”
Some of that access includes Sexton's current pitching coach, who he says has equipped him with different approaches to succeed.
“My pitching coach has challenged me mechanically, transitioned me away from some of my pitches and has introduced me to new ones,” Sexton said.
Sexton has climbed up to the single A affiliate in the Red Sox's organization, the Greenville Drive in Greenville, South Carolina. His first win was on June 7 after six shutout innings.
One moment that has stood out to Sexton came during his debut rookie ball game. The second batter to walk up would be his first strikeout.
“It was a moment where I said to myself that I belong here,” Sexton said.
During his time in the minors, Sexton has caught up with players he faced on the mound as a Raider.
“It's really cool to meet players who I have previously played against in college and have a chance to get to know them off the field,” Sexton said.
Sexton explained that his collegiate career at WSU helped mold him into the player he is today in several areas.
“My work ethic and preparedness were heavily shaped from my time at WSU, as well as my mental game,” Sexton said. “The mental game becomes more important as you climb the ladder up the organization.”
Sexton offered additional advice for future WSU draft prospects.
“Keep pushing yourself,” Sexton said. “The greatest obstacle that a player will face during pro ball is his ability to change, learn and adapt to the game.”