Coulter front and center

Union catcher among invitees to NYC festivities

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

Did you know?

• Round 1 of the First-Year Player Draft plus 29 compensatory picks will be completed Monday. Rounds 2-15 are Tuesday, and rounds 16-40 are Wednesday.

• The Seattle Mariners have the No. 3 overall pick.

• The deadline for teams to sign draft picks is July 13, which is a month earlier than last season.

• Coverage of the first round will be on the MLB Network at 4 p.m. Monday. Subsequent rounds can be followed on MLB.com.

It is quite possible you will see Union senior Clint Coulter on TV today.

Maybe the MLB Network. Or ESPN.

There was talk that he was going to be featured in what it is like for a high school baseball player to be considered one of the top prospects in the nation.

And by the end of the day, it is possible that Coulter, a catcher who was the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League's player of the year, will know which team has selected him in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft.

A day or two later, he expects to be back home, a conclusion to a wild run-up to draft day and the start of what's next in the life of a baseball player with such a promising future.

"The last year has been pretty cool for me, pretty surreal," Coulter said by phone from Milwaukee last week, where he was working out for the Brewers.

He played in the Under Armour All-America Baseball Game and the Area Code Games, he signed with Arizona State, and he has met some of the greats of the game.

And now, it's draft day.

"It's coming to a peak," Coulter said. "A climax of surrealness, I guess you could say."

Yeah, an 18-year-old who has been invited to the draft by Major League Baseball is allowed to make up a word.

Coulter said he is one of four high school prospects who accepted the invitation to attend the draft in New York City. A lot of college prospects are still playing their seasons, and many other players declined, either wanting to hang with family and friends or under advice from their handlers.

Coulter is having a blast with the whole process, though. He also has a positive attitude about all the scenarios that could take place today and in the coming weeks.

If he is drafted high enough, and the circumstances fit, Coulter just might forgo college. If not, the student with the 3.75 grade-point average still has his scholarship to Arizona State.

"I don't really have any expectations," Coulter said. "I'm very confident I'll be picked in the top 30 picks. But you never know what happens until it happens. It's very humbling just to be invited. I'm excited to be going to Arizona State, and I'm confident I'll play professional baseball. When that is, it depends."

Coulter is not keeping any secret. He knows college is important. But he also knows college can be put on hold, too.

"I'd love to start my career," he said. "To be able to start my career young is very important to me. If that opportunity presents itself and if it was a comfortable amount of money, I'd definitely be interested in doing that."

If Coulter does sign a professional contract this summer, he said he will make sure to include a clause that will get his college paid for if he decides to go to school at a later date.

While figuring all that out, he will also find out what position he is expected to play if he does turn professional. Some teams have worked him out as an outfielder, preferring he give up being a catcher.

"I'm a catcher and I love catching, but I'd play anywhere as long as I can get in the lineup," Coulter said.

If anything, the last couple of weeks have shown Coulter what it is like to be a professional athlete, at least travel-wise.

On May 25, he flew to Los Angeles to work out for scouts from the Cardinals and Twins. The next day, he drove to San Diego to work out for the Padres. A drive back to LAX was followed by a flight to Seattle for a workout with the home state's team.

From Safeco Field, Coulter and his family drove back to Clark County for a night's rest at home.

In the morning, they caught a flight to Milwaukee for a workout with the Brewers at Miller Park.

By Friday, the plan was to fly back to Los Angeles, take a breather on Saturday, then work out at Dodgers Stadium on Sunday before taking a red eye to New York for the draft.

"It's going to be fun," he said.