Andrew Leenhouts was rewarded for his patience.
Selected in the 43d round of last year’s Major League Baseball first-year player draft by the Florida (now Miami) Marlins, the hard-throwing lefthander from Franklin chose to return for his final college season at Northeastern and earn a degree in civil engineering.
“I was on the fence for a while, but in the end, I thought it best to stay in school,” said the 22-year-old.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Leenhouts took the mound for Cape Cod League champion Harwich last summer, and then further impressed scouts this spring by compiling a 7-3 record while averaging nearly one strikeout per inning for Northeastern.
“He improved his draft status dramatically,” said NU coach Neil McPhee.
Leenhouts, selected in the 23d round by the San Francisco Giants, was among five area players drafted last week.
Newton’s Travis Dean, a sophomore pitcher at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, went to the Texas Rangers in the 22d round, followed by Ithaca senior reliever Tucker Healy of Needham (23d round, Oakland), Lexington High first baseman Chris Shaw (26th round, Mets), and Bentley pitcher Rob Finneran (37th round, Tampa Bay).
Leenhouts and Healy were in Arizona last weekend and will be assigned to Class A rookie teams.
Drafted by the Yankees in the 14th round of the 2010 draft, and 13 months removed from Tommy John elbow surgery, Dean has signed a temporary contract with Cotuit in the Cape Cod League, and is undecided about whether to turn pro.
A standout at Needham High, Healy was a three-time first-team All-Empire 8 Conference selection at Ithaca, which advanced to its NCAA Division 3 regional final.
“To say that I’m excited, proud, and happy for Tucker would be an understatement,” said Ithaca’s coach, George Valesente. “He’s as fine a young man and captain as I’ve ever coached.”
The program’s career record holder in saves, Healy (3-3 record, 3.51 earned run average, six saves this season) struck out 55 in 34⅓ innings as a senior.
“I’m a Division 3 pitcher, so playing in the Cape League with and against great Division 1 players helped me a lot,” said the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Healy, whose parents, Martha and Michael, were three-sport athletes at Needham High. “This is a dream come true.”
Second in Northeastern history with 282 career strikeouts, Leenhouts averaged more than seven innings per start this season.
He fanned nine batters in eight innings in the first game of a crucial three-game sweep of Old Dominion. A week later, in his final start for the Huskies, he had a complete game win over Delaware with eight strikeouts.
“I played in Harwich with Mississippi State’s Chris Stratton, who was the Giants’ first-round pick, so I'm hoping we’ll be teammates again,” said Leenhouts, a two-time team MVP at Franklin High. “Playing on a great team surrounded by great teammates on the Cape definitely made me a better player, and being in important games late this season at Northeastern made me even more focused.”
McPhee said he feels his lefthander “has a legitimate shot at going a long way. Coming off that Cape League championship, Drew’s command of the strike zone was better, his pitches were sharper and his velocity was up.”
The 6-foot-6, 195-pound Dean, who played at Newton South and later Worcester Academy, said it was an honor to be drafted.
“When I was selected out of high school, I felt I had a ways to go as a player and a pitcher, and Kevin Ermino, the pitching coach at Kennesaw State, had a great reputation,” he said. “I’m very excited about next season, no matter where I’ll be.”
Dean started six games for the Owls this season, going 4-1 with a 5.60 ERA in 27⅓ innings. He finished strong at the Atlantic Sun Conference championships, pitching Kennesaw into the finals by allowing just one run in eight innings against Florida Gulf Coast.
“Travis has worked hard to get back,” said Kennesaw coach Mike Sansing.
Under this year’s revised draft rules, players must sign by July 13, and those drafted after the 10th round cannot be offered more than $100,000, a factor in Shaw’s future plans.
“I'm tremendously humbled and thankful to the Mets,” said Shaw. “They said they’d make it interesting for me and will probably invite me to work out. But with the new draft rules, if you’re not going in the top 10, you’re not getting the type of money that would make it worth passing up college.”
A 6-foot-3, 235-pounder who bats from the left side, Shaw hit .480 for Lexington High with seven home runs.
Finneran, meanwhile, was 8-3 with a 2.26 ERA for Bentley, tying the Falcons’ single-season record for wins. He missed the 2011 season following Tommy John surgery. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Finneran faced 1,003 batters during his collegiate career, allowed only two home runs and set a program record with 21 career victories.