The College of Wooster's Michael Wielansky was selected by the defending Major League Baseball World Series champion Houston Astros in the 18th round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday. Wielansky, the first NCAA Div. III position player drafted this year, was the 552nd selection overall.
"It's been a lifelong dream since the time I was about 3-years-old until now," said Wielansky. "I never thought it was really going to be possible. I want to thank everyone who's been a part of it. I want to thank my coaches who gave me a shot when nobody else did. I want to thank my teammates. And, most importantly my family. They've been with me since day one and sacrificed so much for me to follow my dream. Now, it's finally becoming a reality, which is surreal."
"That's awesome," said head coach Tim Pettorini, who himself was selected in the 18th round by the San Diego Padres in 1973. "I'm absolutely tickled for him. It's something he's been working towards his whole life. This is phenomenal and I couldn't be happier."
A native of St. Louis, Mo., Wielansky was a consensus first-team All-American and the Mideast Region Position Player-of-the-Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association and D3baseball.com this season. Additionally, the junior shortstop became the second known player in NCAA Div. III history to record 200 hits, 200 runs, and 150 RBI before the end of his junior year. On the year, Wielansky hit .401 (79-for-197), led Div. III in runs with 76, and tallied up 50 RBI, 40 walks, 20 doubles, seven triples, and six home runs.
Wielansky, who became the third player in program history to earn first-team ABCA All-American honors in back-to-back years, was tabbed as the best defensive shortstop in Div. III as a sophomore and earned the organization's coveted gold glove award. The junior is nominated for the honor again this year, and the recipients will be announced later this month.
While his play at the College has been phenomenal from day one as a first-year, Wielansky's play in the Valley Baseball League last summer really boosted his draft stock. Wielansky earned the summer collegiate wood bat league's MVP honor after turning in one of the highest batting averages – .432 – since the league became a NCAA-sanctioned summer league in 1961. Wielansky's .489 on-base and .677 slugging percentages, hits (67), runs (38), and doubles (18) all were tops in the league during the 42-game regular season.
Wielansky's the 14th Wooster great to either be drafted or sign a professional contract with a MLB team since 1970, and the first since alumnus Matthew Johnson inked a free agent deal with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010. The last Wooster great to have his named called at the draft was Jared Treadway, who was a 46th round selection by the New York Yankees in 2002.
Wielansky has signed with the Astros organization, and in doing so, will forego his last season of eligibility at Wooster. He'll be playing this summer for the Tri-City ValleyCats, a Single A affiliate of the Astros.