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Mariners draft Ryan Horstman; South Hadley native will turn pro

PHOTO COURTESY ST. JOHN'S
The Seattle Mariners drafted St. John's left-hander and South Hadley native Ryan Horstman in the fourth round of the First Year Player Draft Friday. The 117th pick said he will sign and turn professional.

PHOTO COURTESY ST. JOHN'S The Seattle Mariners drafted St. John's left-hander and South Hadley native Ryan Horstman in the fourth round of the First Year Player Draft Friday. The 117th pick said he will sign and turn professional. Purchase photo reprints »

Ryan Horstman didn’t hesitate. The South Hadley native is ready to start his professional baseball career.

When the Seattle Mariners selected him in the fourth round (117th overall) of the First Year Player Draft Friday, a spot that likely comes with a slotted signing bonus of around $450,000, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound left-handed pitcher decided to forgo his final three seasons of eligibility at St. John’s.

“It’s not a tough call. I’m signing,” Horstman said. “They’re going to come to my house in a couple days. I’ll sign a contract and they’ll tell me where to ship off and start my career.”

Horstman said the impact of the occasion was still sinking in.

“I don’t even know what to do right now. I’m so excited,” said Horstman, who watched the draft online with some family and friends at home. “It’s unbelievable. Hard work pays off. Now I have to improve and work even harder.”

He said the Mariners showed increased interest in recent weeks, but he was still surprised at how high he went.

“I know I was projected third through seventh rounds, but I honestly thought it would be sixth or seventh,” he said. “The Mariners had started calling me a lot. It was between them, the Orioles and the Rangers. They were the teams that loved me the most. I knew it was going to be one of them.”

Horstman, who had two years off between his senior year of high school and his freshman season at St. John’s, was draft eligible following his freshman year because he turns 21 in July. He was 6-6 with a 2.33 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 652∕3 innings working as a starter and out of the bullpen. His ERA was best on the Red Storm and tied for fifth in the Big East. He was named a Louisville Slugger freshman All-American earlier this week.

Horstman was the 21st left-handed pitcher to go and the second player from Massachusetts behind only Amherst Regional product Kevin Ziomek, who was picked 58th by the Detroit Tigers on Friday.

Horstman, who led South Hadley to its first Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament championship in 2010, was slated to pitch in the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer. He will instead report to a Mariners’ farm team.

He expected to spend the next day or two in South Hadley with family and friends. He planned to head to New York for a day to see his St. John’s teammates and thank his coaches before departing.

Horstman’s first minor league stop could be in either one of Seattle’s Rookie League affiliates in Pulaski (Va.) or Peoria (Ariz.), or he could be sent to the Mariners’ short season Single A affiliate Everett (Wash.) Aqua Sox in the Northwest League.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com.

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