Strain drafted by Los Angeles Dodgers
Connor Strain, a 2012 North Central High School graduate, was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the ninth round of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday afternoon.
The right-handed pitcher recently completed his fifth year of eligibility at the University of Evansville, majoring in accounting and business management.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” said Strain. “It is pretty cool.
“I didn’t know until a scout from the Dodgers called me. I kind of blacked out and said, ‘I’m really excited,’ over and over.”
Former North Central coach Craig Grow said he was very happy for his former pitcher.
“I am very excited for Connor,” said former North Central baseball coach Craig Grow. “He has put in many, many hours of work in to be the best that he can be.
“When he was in high school he put everything he had into his pitching. I think the Dodger organization will be very happy with Connor.”
As a junior, Strain, the son of Jeff and Paula Strain, led the Thunderbirds to a runner-up finish in the Class A state finals and a 25-6 record. He had a 1.54 ERA in 70 1/3 innings and batted .451.
As a senior at NCHS, he batted. .398 with a 1.30 ERA in 60 innings of work.
Strain was the 280th overall pick in the draft. The fifth-year senior recorded a 2-5 record in 2017.
He posted an impressive 2.62 ERA in 14 starts for the Aces. Strain fanned 68 batters in just over 68 innings of work.
“We are thrilled as a program to see Connor get drafted in the ninth round by the Dodgers,” UE head baseball coach Wes Carroll told the media. “He has had a great career in an Aces uniform and he is ready for the next step.”
Strain’s 2.62 ERA this year was the second-best in the Missouri Valley Conference and tops among all full-time starting pitchers, earning All-Conference First Team.
The Shelburn native had a scoreless streak of 15 innings while allowing just two runs over five starts in April.
“It is great to see another developed player out of our program get the chance to play at the next level,” said Carroll.
As a junior in 2016, Strain started five games before his season was cut short due to a forearm injury, forcing him to take a medical redshirt. He had a 3-1 record with a team-best 0.68 ERA over 26.1 innings.
He allowed just two earned runs on the year, striking out 26 while holding opposing hitters to a .180 batting average. Strain did not allow an earned run over his final 23.2 innings of the 2016 season.
“While at Evansville, he had to overcome some injuries and he fought through those to have a very successful career,” said Grow.
Carroll told the Courier-Press earlier this year that Connor throws a heavy sinker, 91 to 93 (mph).
“It feels like a bowling ball when you try to hit it,” Carroll said. “The key for him is he was able to get his offspeed over for a strike to feed off it.
“His ground ball to fly ball ratio is off the charts and being a ground-ball pitcher, you’re going to have a lot of success.”
According to the Dodgers, Strain was not listed on any of the prospect lists, unranked in their David Hood’s top 200 draft prospects, not a part of the Baseball America top 500, and not mentioned in the MLB Pipeline Top 200.
Strain, who is 6-1 and weighs 185 pounds, was not drafted out of high school.
“Connor is a competitor,” said Grow, a former Major League Baseball scout. “He knows what he has to do to be a success at the next level and he is willing to put forth that effort to get the job done.”
Strain said he started playing baseball with his dad and brother Tyler when he was really young.
“I remember when I started playing T-ball,” Connor said. “I fell in love with the game when I was very young. I was a Yankees’ fan and loved Derek Jeter.
“Getting drafted is like a dream come true. I feel blessed to have this opportunity. I know I will have to continue to work hard every day to make the most of it. I hope one day that I could be wearing Dodger Blue in the major leagues.”
Information for this story provided by the University of Evansville Athletic Department.