For the last two years, Citadel catcher Joe Jackson has flashed the signals to Austin Pritcher, telling him which pitch to throw.
So it’s kind of fitting that it was Jackson who signaled to Pritcher on Saturday the immediate future of his pro career.
Pritcher, the Southern Conference pitcher of the year, learned from his battery mate that he had been drafted in the 19th round of the Major League Baseball draft.
A senior from James Island, Pritcher was the No. 576 overall pick of the three-day draft, which ended today.
Also, Charleston Southern senior Ryan Gunther, a Stratford High School product, was taken in the 12th round by the Braves, the No. 373 overall pick.
Pritcher was watching South Carolina’s Super Regional game against North Carolina when he got the word from Jackson.
“I was checking my phone and the computer here and there, and then I got a text from Joe telling me I’d been drafted,” Pritcher said.
Pritcher got a call from the Tigers shortly afterwards, and expects to report shortly to a mini-camp on Florida, where he will learn his first minor-league assignment.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” said Pritcher, a 6-1, 200-pound right-hander who was 8-3 with a 2.99 earned-run average this season. “It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life.”
Jackson was drafted in the fifth round by the Rangers on Friday, but Pritcher had to wait until the third day. That was nerve-wracking, he said.
“I was kind of numb when I didn’t go on the second day,” he said. “But once you get to a certain point in the draft, it doesn’t matter anyway. I’m just excited that I will get a chance.”
Gunther, a right-hander, was 7-5 with a 3.97 ERA, including a 4-2 mark and 2.86 ERA over his final seven starts.
“I’ve been a Braves fan my whole life,” Gunther said. “So to get drafted by them is something special.”