In the waning days of June, Thomas White watched from his Rowley home as the Miami Marlins beat up on his hometown Red Sox.
Little did he know that two weeks later the Marlins would come calling, selecting the Phillips Andover lefthander with the 35th overall pick Sunday in the MLB Draft.
The Marlins selected White with the third pick in Competitive Balance Round A, which takes place at the conclusion of the first round. He became the highest-drafted Massachusetts high school pitcher since Lawrence Academy’s Tyler Beede, of Auburn, who went 21st to the Blue Jays in 2011.
“I’m so thankful to the Marlins for taking this investment in me, and I’m ready to get to work with them,” White said.
The 18-year-old already has a full ride to Vanderbilt, but White said that he plans to sign with the Marlins. The projected value for the 35th pick is $2.42 million
“When you have options like that, you really can’t go wrong,” Chris Powers, White’s coach at Phillips Andover, said Sunday night.
MLB scouts followed White across the country since the lefthander first reached 91 miles per hour at age 14. This spring, teammates and coaches reported seeing 40-50 scouts at White’s starts. At the season-ending rivalry game at Phillips Exeter on May 27, two dozen showed for a final viewing.
White was projected to go between the early first round and mid-second round.
“I was prepared for any situation,” White said. “It doesn’t matter where you go. If an organization has confidence in you, I’m beyond happy and proud to now be able to represent them.”
White serves hitters an effortless-looking mid-90s fastball that reaches 98. His low-80s curve acts like a slider, breaking down and in. Coming out of his hand, his high-70s changeup looks the same as the other two. Every pitch arrives from the same balanced delivery.
“He’s a student first and foremost,” Powers said. “That work ethic that he has in the classroom, he takes it onto the baseball field, to film study, and he works out like crazy. He loves the process of it.”
White, at 6 feet 5 inches and 215 pounds, struck out 165 batters and allowed 20 hits in 75 innings the last two seasons and won the Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year award in both.
The Marlins have a history of developing pitchers.
“It doesn’t take a lot of work to look at their major league rotation right now and see who they brought up or who they brought in and really improved,” White said. “I’m beyond excited to use all the technology that they have and get to work with all the specialists they have to hopefully become a part of that big league rotation.”
Other top Massachusetts high school draftees include Peabody’s Jeff Allison, whose 0.00 ERA and 98-m.p.h. fastball had the Marlins drafting him 16th overall in 2003. Salem’s Jeff Juden, the highest-drafted high school player from the state, went 12th to the Astros in 1989.
“It’s not often that a pitcher from the Northeast gets drafted, so it’s awesome,” Powers said. “It’s a great day for baseball, especially in Massachusetts.”
Other New Englanders who heard their name called Sunday include Brimfield’s Matt Shaw (No. 13 overall, Chicago), a Worcester Academy product who played at Maryland, and Alex Clemmey (No. 58 overall, Cleveland) from Rhode Island’s Bishop Hendricken High School.
“I’m beyond proud. If it helps pave the way for any future players from here, then I did my job,” White said. “Massachusetts can produce baseball players, too.”