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Dreams keep coming true

By Aaron Paitich, Special to the Star Tribune, 06/27/11, 7:29PM CDT


Hill-Murray senior Youngdahl was drafted by the Boston Red Sox

At Midway Stadium in a game between Edina and Hill-Murray, Hill-Murray starting pitcher Robert Youngdahl winds up for a pitch. Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

Rob Youngdahl

Rob Youngdahl was glued to the computer screen, watching and listening to MLB.com’s live draft tracker for hours and hours. His father, Mark, was working at the house, occasionally listening in.

“He watched the whole thing,” his dad said. “Pretty sure I let out a yell when I heard it.”

What he heard was one of baseball’s storied franchises, the Boston Red Sox, selecting the Hill-Murray graduate in the 37th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft. Rob received at least 15 phone calls in the next five minutes.

“I always thought it would be so cool to get drafted,” Rob Youngdahl said. “And then once it actually happened; it was unbelievable to see my name on the screen with all these guys.”

The promising lefthander was called up to the varsity squad midway through his freshman year, when he promptly served up a pitch that Pioneers coach Bill Lechner said “went over the center field fence and I think it’s still traveling.”

Lechner paid the youngster a visit to the mound.

“Well, how do you like varsity baseball so far?” Lechner asked him.

He took off from there. Youngdahl registered a 7-0 record with a 0.49 ERA before the Pioneers were upset by Roseville in sections this spring. He batted .450 with five homers and 24 RBI while displaying defensive prowess with his range and arm strength in the outfield.

The Pioneers ace and leadoff man was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, one of the seven finalists for the Mr. Baseball award and first-team All-Metro by the Star-Tribune.

While the Red Sox drafted the 6-2,
185-pound athlete as an outfielder, scouts previously salivated over his live arm, which has hit 90 on the radar gun. That’s where Kansas State — where he committed during last fall’s signing period — originally wanted him to play. But after coaches saw him hit and play the outfield, they might give him a chance to be an everyday player.

Youngdahl, a baseball nut, doesn’t have a position preference.

“I just love playing baseball, so if that’s in the outfield or on the mound, I do not care,” said Youngdahl, who was the second Minnesota high school player selected in the draft. “I just love being out there.”

Youngdahl and his family traveled to Boston on Wednesday morning — which the family paid for to not run afoul of NCAA eligibility rules — as all draft picks were invited to showcase their talents in front of the Red Sox brass. After attending a Red Sox-Padres game — the Youngdahls’ first time at Fenway — the next couple of days were filled with intra-squad scrimmages and other baseball-related activities.

Soon, Youngdahl will have to make a decision between signing a professional contract or fulfilling his college commitment. Once he steps foot on the Kansas State campus, his draft status will be revoked and he’ll be unable to re-enter the draft until his junior year.

“Pro ball is my dream, so whether that’s through Kansas State — that would be awesome — or right after high school, either way I think it’s a great opportunity,” Youngdahl said.

The Youngdahls aren’t sure what will happen quite yet — that decision will come later this summer — but one thing is for sure: he’s enjoying the moment.

“Dreams are coming true left and right,” Youngdahl said.

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2011 Draft Picks

Madison Boer 89 R/R 6'4" 215 RHP 11/9/89 Eden Prairie Oregon Junior
Jordan Smith 278 L/R 6'4" 205 3B 07/5/90 Willmar St. Cloud State Sophomore
Michael Strong 311 L/L 6'0" 175 LHP 11/17/88 Stillwater Oklahoma State Senior
Benjamin Hughes 318 R/R 6'5" 215 RHP 11/29/89 Blake St. Olaf College Junior
Justin Gominsky 340 R/R 6'4" 185 CF 08/26/89 Mahtomedi Minnesota Junior
Jacob Esch 343 R/R 6'4" 190 2B 03/27/90 Cretin-Derham Hall Georgia Tech Junior
Austin Malinowski 508 R/L 6'4" 210 LHP 11/30/92 Centennial N/A Senior
Nick O'Shea 745 R/R 6'3" 220 1B 01/29/89 Centennial Minnesota Junior
AJ Pettersen 778 R/R 5'9" 170 SS 11/19/88 Minnetonka Minnesota Senior
Adam Weisenburger 1031 R/R 5'10" 185 C 12/13/88 Benilde-St. Margaret's Miami University Senior
Robert Youngdahl 1132 L/L 6'2" 185 OF 11/18/92 Hill-Murray N/A Senior
TJ Oakes 1258 R/R 6'5" 210 RHP 07/15/90 Jordan Minnesota Sophomore
Joe Loftus 1384 R/R 6'3" 210 OF 08/7/89 Academy of Holy Angels Vanderbilt Junior
Brian Hansen 1478 R/R 6'3" 190 OF 11/16/89 Rocori St. Cloud State Junior