The lifelong dream of Levi Thomas came true on Thursday night.
The former Cullman pitcher and Troy standout was selected 109th overall by the San Diego Padres during the fourth round of the 2020 MLB Draft, which began on Wednesday.
To say Thomas was elated wouldn’t be doing it justice.
“I got a call maybe 10 or 15 minutes before it happened,” Thomas said. “My agent just asked me, ‘How would you like to be a Padre?’ And I was like, ‘Absolutely.’ I didn’t know he had a group call going with the general manager and director of scouting. They told me how much they wanted me, and it was incredible. To hear them say, ‘We’re taking you’ is something I’ll never forget.”
Thomas produced impressive numbers for the Trojans during a pandemic-shortened junior season.
He posted a 0.39 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 23 innings, holding opponents to a paltry .117 batting average.
The Collegiate Baseball All-American capped his terrific career with a 12-3 record, 2.98 ERA and 185 strikeouts in 145 innings.
Thomas’ draft slot is valued at $533,000, and the right-hander said he’s planning to sign with the organization “whenever I get the chance.”
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s something you dream about as a kid. To be in this position, though; it’s a whole different feeling. I don’t know when everything’s supposed to happen, but I was on the phone earlier getting some things established for the contract. I’m just waiting patiently.”
Prior to this year’s draft, Thomas was named one of the Top 100 pitchers (No. 48) in the country by DI Baseball, and Perfect Game selected him as one of the Top 400 MLB Draft prospects (No. 153) as well.
Thomas is the first Black and Gold player to be drafted since pitchers Jacob Heatherly (No. 77, Cincinnati Reds) and Keegan Thompson (No. 105, Chicago Cubs) were both selected in the 2017 MLB Draft.
“Those two guys left an incredible impact on Cullman,” Thomas said. “It’s time to race them to the big leagues, and it’ll be a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see what happens. Keegan was a workhorse and still is. Jacob is one of the funniest guys I’ve ever played with in my career. He was also one of the first to get to the field and one of the last to leave the field.”
Cullman coach Brent Patterson, meanwhile, had nothing but positive things to say about Thomas.
“He was always very talented but often overlooked in that (2017) class,” he said. “Levi had always believed in the program and loved his teammates. But the summer before his senior year, he took his commitment to a whole new level. He was obsessed with being in great physical condition and never missed a day in the weight room.
“He became a lot more explosive, and I think he began to believe in his abilities. Each start built on the previous one, and he was dominant on the mound that season. And one thing that never changed was his attitude. He was a pleasure to coach, a real gentleman and a class act.”