The anticipation got the best of Joe Gray on Monday night.
Eager to hear his name called on the opening night of the 2018 MLB Draft, the former Hattiesburg star couldn’t sit still. One minute he paced back and forth inside his house, and the next he went outside to clear his mind and avoid staring desperately at the television.
Nearly four hours after the draft commenced, Gray went back inside where family, friends and former Tiger teammates all greeted him with a memorable stare.
“It was unreal,” Gray recalled. “They surrounded me and were just as happy.”
Finally, Gray’s name was called as the Milwaukee Brewers selected him 60th overall in the second round.
“Right now, I don’t even know how to explain it. Whenever my name was called, my legs were shaking.”
Gray wrapped up an unforgettable baseball career at Hattiesburg High School about three weeks ago, when the Tigers claimed the Class 5A State Championship. It was a goal Gray set four years ago as a freshman. So too was Monday’s moment.
“It’s something I’ve been waiting for, for a long time.”
Four years later, Gray turned himself into arguably the state’s top 2018 prospect and one of the best to ever wear the purple and gold. As a result, Gray, who is a career .454 hitter at Hattiesburg, signed with Ole Miss in November.
It’s now unclear whether he will make it to Oxford or get a head start on his pro career. Either way, Gray could find himself playing in-state. If he chooses to skip college, chances are that he could, sooner rather than later, find himself playing for the Biloxi Shuckers, the Double-A affiliate of the Brewers.
“That is unreal,” Gray said of the prospects of playing in Biloxi. “The whole state would be behind me. Everybody in Mississippi and Hattiesburg, they’ll be coming to see me. I’m pretty blessed, man. I’m glad this worked out.”
Gray had a feeling it could after working out for the Brewers just a few days after Hattiesburg’s state title victory.
“The Brewers had interest in me, and obviously it showed today,” Gray said. “I’m glad they showed to have confidence in me, too.”
As of right now, Gray says there is no timetable for when a decision on his future will be made, citing that his agent will handle it and keep him in the loop. According to MLB.com, the pick value at 60th overall is $1,113,500.
“I know I’m going to probably be on a cruise starting Thursday,” Gray added. “I’m just taking a few days off from the deal to clear my mind and reset.”