John Baker was the only MAC baseball player that was drafted and did not sign with a major league team. The Miami Marlins selected Baker in the 29th round of the 2019 draft.
The Livingston Daily’s Bill Khan wrote an article with quotes from Ball State’s head coach Rich Maloney stating that this pick was the steal of the draft. Apparently Baker agreed so much that he’s going to bet on himself to improve his draft stock.
John Baker improved every year at Ball State. His ERA his freshman season was 4.28 and dropped it 3.68 his sophomore year, and had a 2.13 ERA this past season. Baker has also cut his WHIP from 1.43 to 1.16 while increasing his strikeouts per nine from 9.15 to 11.30.
This past season, twice Baker took no hitters into the seventh inning. On May 11 he threw 116 pitches and seven complete innings in his part for a combined no hitter. Against teams that made the conference tournament this season, his stat line was:
That’s pretty good.
Betting on Yourself
Cautionary tales are everywhere for this kind of decision, and you don’t have to look farther than another MAC player. Pavin Parks from Kent State was selected in the 24th round in 2018 by the San Diego Padres. The Detroit Tigers selected Parks in the 36th round this year after not signing with the Padres.
Even as bad as that looks, Parks didn’t get a draft slot signing bonus in either draft. Going back for his senior year didn’t help. It didn’t hurt either. If Baker plays well enough to get drafted then his worst case scenario is no different than his current situation.
If John Baker puts together another year that is just as strong as his last season he should get drafted higher. He should be the ace of the staff in 2020. If he can avoid an injury and perform well in non conference play, where the competition could be higher, things will be looking up for Baker.