East Lake (FL) High School’s Eric Hanhold. A 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-hander, Hanhold was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies with the 1238th overall selection, the lowest number for a final pick since 1986 (891) thanks to new rules that capped the length of the draft at 40 rounds.
Hanhold is the second consecutive high-schooler taken with the final pick in the draft, following last year’s Mr. DCHO Kolya Stephenson, and the eleventh draft pick from East Lake. Two of the previous ten picks played in the major leagues: Ryan Snare and 2009 National League Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan. Both players failed to sign after being drafted out of high school and went to college (at North Carolina and Mississippi, respectively), an approach Hanhold seems likely to emulate, as he committed last winter to play at the University of Florida.
As a junior, Hanhold earned second-team all-conference honors, finishing 9-2 with a 1.83 ERA and 51 strikeouts. As a senior this spring, he was 7-3 with a 1.14 ERA. Baseball America ranked him as the 69th-best draft prospect in the state of Florida. The 65th prospect in the state, Yogey Perez-Ramos, was ranked 488th nationally, so it stands to reason that Hanhold wasn’t too far outside the publications Top 500.
Hanhold impressed scouts at the Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star Classic last month. Baseball America’s Cliff Longenecker reported that “he was up to 92-93 mph with his fastball and showed a good breaking ball.”
Three previous Mr. Don’t Count Him Out winners are still active in professional baseball. The 2004 winner, Eric Gonzalez, did not sign, re-entered the draft in 2008, and was taken in the 24th round. He spent three years in the Padres organization before being released prior to last season. Now listed as Eric Gonzalez-Diaz, he has spent the past two seasons with the Lake Erie Crushers of the independent Frontier League.
Kyle Stroup was selected with the final pick in the 2008 draft. Considered a talent worthy of the top ten rounds, his bonus demands caused him to plummet all the way to the end of the 50th and final round. Although he has put up decent numbers in the minors, a pair of serious knee injuries that caused him to miss the entire 2010 and (likely) 2012 seasons have curtailed his development.
Like Eric Gonzalez, Matt Rice was drafted with the final pick, declined, and moved up in a later draft. In Rice’s case, he was first selected following his junior year at Western Kentucky University. A talented catcher, he dropped because of his intellect: a 4.0 GPA in Mechanical Engineering convinced most teams that he wouldn’t be interested in signing. The Rays took him in the ninth round in 2011, the highest redraft for a Mr. DCHO winner, and he has rewarded them with a .283 average, .364 on-base percentage ,and six homeruns in 87 games between Short-Season and Low-A.