Gary Albright was on a job site in Tyson’s Corner for his commercial construction company Tuesday.
He has stopped closely following the Major League Baseball draft. It was the third day of the event, after all, and Albright felt the best chance for a team to select his son, Mason, right out of high school had already passed.
Albright, a Thurmont native, had spoken with Mason’s agent earlier in the morning. He knew that conversations were ongoing and there was a chance something might materialize.
But he also knew, with the draft more than halfway over, the chance that a team was going make his son an offer that would prompt him to give up a scholarship to play at Virginia Tech to turn pro right away, potentially wasting a draft pick in the process if he chose to go to college, seemed pretty remote.
“We thought he was going to get called [Monday], and he did. He got multiple calls throughout the day [from various teams]. It just didn’t work out financially,” Albright said. “So, I wasn’t really expecting it to happen today.”
When Mason’s agent called again a few hours later, informing him on the construction site that his son had been selected in the 12th round of the draft by the Los Angeles Angels with the 351st pick overall, Gary Albright was both “super excited” and “super surprised.”
“A lot of people don’t see what happens behind the scenes,” Albright said of his son’s determination and work ethic to make a moment like this possible. “He works his tail off when nobody is watching.”
Mason Albright is a 5-11, 185-pound left-handed pitching prospect who played at Catoctin High School before transferring to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, for his senior year and the chance to play alongside some of the best prospects in the country.
Albright is the first Frederick County baseball player to be drafted right out of high school since Thomas Johnson graduate and former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Branden Kline was selected in the sixth round of the 2009 draft by the Boston Red Sox with the 198th overall pick.
It’s unclear what sort of financial offer the Angels might have made Albright to convince him to give up his college scholarship and sign with them right away.
“I don’t think teams draft a kid, only having 20 rounds this year, without knowing the kid is possibly going to sign,” said T.J. Hose, Albright’s pitching coach. “Kudos to [Mason] for staying firm [on what he wanted financially] and betting on himself.”
Hose is familiar with Albright’s thinking and has been kept in the loop throughout the entire draft process.
“From what I am hearing, he is getting a significant offer that is going to be a very tough decision for him to make,” Hose said.
If Albright turns down whatever the Angels offer and decides to go to Virginia Tech, he will not be eligible to be drafted again until after his junior season.
As a sixth-round pick in 2009, Kline opted to turn down a six-figure offer from the Red Sox to become the first member of his family to attend college. After three years as both a starter and relief pitcher at the University of Virginia, he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the second round of the 2012 draft with the 65th overall selection. He chose to sign with them and received a bonus of almost $800,000 in accordance with the slotting system used by Major League baseball.
As a 12th-round pick, it’s unclear what Albright could command from the Angels, and what they might be willing to offer him to sign.
Albright did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment after he was drafted.
Through conversations with his pupil, Hose was aware that something could be potentially in the works Tuesday with the Angels. But after Hose saw the Angels select another pitcher in the 11th round, he, too, turned the draft off, thinking it wasn’t Albright’s time.
Hose then started a pitching lesson with one of his 13-year-old students.
“I got my phone out to video the kid, and I was like ‘Holy cow!’ I had five missed calls, a bunch of text messages,” he said. “I knew something had just happened.”
The lessoned continued, but Hose admitted his mind was elsewhere. He apologized repeatedly to his student.
“I told my student, ‘You don’t know this, and you don’t understand this. But I am going to remember this day for the rest of my life. And you are part of it,” Hose said.
As a small-town kid, would Albright be willing to move across the country to chase a professional dream?
“He is built for it,” Hose said. “You don’t forgo your senior year at Catoctin and go to Florida at IMG without family and friends without being prepared. I think that situation, being a year away from home in a new setting has prepared him for this next step in life.”
Five more Keys selected in draft
Seven Frederick Keys were selected over the course of the three-day Major League draft.
Pitchers Ronan Kopp, Luis Guerrero, Luke Anderson and Kamron Fields, as well as shortstop Hector Nieves were drafted on the third day of the event Tuesday. They join shortstop Alex Ulloa and outfielder Mason Auer, who were selected Monday.
Kopp was chosen in the 12th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Anderson was selected in the 15th round by the Oakland Athletics, Guerrero was taken in the 17th round by the Boston Red Sox, Nieves was drafted in the 19th round by the Houston Astros and Fields was selected in the 20th round by the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Keys are playing their first season in the six-team Major League Baseball Draft League.