The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

June 9, 2013

Blair, Easton get The Call

Twins tab former Laker in 24th round

Sports Editor

— When Brandon Easton heard, the news didn’t come from the television, or in the case for Jefferson’s Zak Blair, the computer.

It came from his high school coach, Steve Urchek.

“(Urchek) called me and told me before I even knew!” Easton, the Pymatuning Valley graduate and Lakeland Community College product who was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 24th round as the 710th player taken in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Saturday. “It was kind of fitting to hear it from Steve, first, because he’s done so much for me.”

Then, his summer-ball coach, Tony Gorvet, reached him... before the Twins did.

“It’s pretty amazing, really,” the son of Bryan and Debra Easton said. “Those guys are so connected, they knew before I did.”

When the Twins reached him, the reality of the situation set in for Easton.

“I’m a professional baseball player,” he said, voice trailing off a bit. “I’m going to be a Minnesota Twin!”

It should be noted, Easton, a hard-throwing left-handed pitcher who just finished his freshman season at Lakeland, wasn’t bragging with the way he said that sentence, not at all.

His tone was once of sincere appreciation.

“In all seriousness, I can’t believe this is happening,” he said. “My parents, my family and friends... all my coaches and teammates, this would not be possible in the least without them.

“I am truly blessed to have received this opportunity. I’m living out every little kid’s dream and I thank God each and every day for He’s truly blessed me with being able to be at this point in my life.

“I’ve worked very hard, but to be put in this position is the result of the efforts of so many people.”

Easton said he received word from Urchek around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“It was nerve-wracking, waiting and waiting and waiting,” he said with a laugh. “The stress level was unbelievable, it really was!

“There’s nothing worse than not knowing and having to wait for the telephone to ring.”

But ring, it did.

“I had just gotten home and got off the phone with my dad, who called me and said, ‘have you gotten a phone call, yet?’ As soon as I told him no and we finished the call, my phone rang again and it was Coach Urchek.”

Has his phone stopped ringing since?

“Not at all!” he said with another laugh. “It was blowing up! I’ve heard from people I haven’t heard from in years. My phone actually died, at one point, because it was one after another.”

And they all sound a similar refrain.

“They really do,” Easton said. “Everyone is genuinely happy for me and it’s so wonderful to hear.”

Next for Easton, who will turn 21 in September, is a visit from the Twins.

“A scout is coming to my house (today),” he said. “It will be a negotiation. We’ll see how things go. We should know a lot more after (today).”

Until then, though, Easton will relax. Or try to, anyway.

“We’re going out on the lake on a pontoon boat (today),” he said. “It will be great just to try and take a step back and catch my breath a bit.”

Considering what he’s been through in the last week or so, Easton admits that’s not likely to happen, though.

“Probably not,” he said, laughing. “I’m going to be playing professional baseball... it seems like I’m dreaming.”