It has been one strange ride for Nathan Bertness, who went from state champion to walk-on, and now a pitcher taken in the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim selected Bertness with the 495th pick in the 16th round of the draft.
Going into the season Bertness had an idea that we would be drafted. “The Angels were on me pretty good throughout the whole process,” said Bertness.
“All year, I talked to teams. I filled out questionnaires. I talked to a couples teams coming up to the draft,” said Bertness about the pre-draft process. “I meet with a couple scouts, talking about the whole process. It was pretty expecting.”
The Angels seems to have clear fondness for Bertness.
“I talked to the Angels scout a couple times on the phone leading up to the draft and the day before. And after the draft obviously,” added Bertness.
The first two days of the draft passed. Bertness was left to watch the draft pass by on his computer screen. He had an idea that his name would be called early in the third round.
“The Angels scout texted me in the tenth round, he said he turned me into the people uptop,” said Bertness.
“He told me to keep my fingers crossed. Unfortunately, they didn’t call my name during that round.”
The 16th round started and Bertness’ wait was over.
“I was at my house with my little brother and one of my friends,” Bertness said about waiting for his named to be called.
“We were watching the draft tracker on the computer. I was on the phone with my dad when it happened. That was pretty cool.”
The process moved fast after his name was called. “Right after my name popped up on the computer, the Angels scout called me,” noted Bertness. “He said we need to setup a date for him to come to my house to sign.”
Berness signed and he is already in Arizona to join the AZL Angels — the Angels’ rookie ball team.
It has been a long, strange road for Bertness. He was a member of the Travis high school basketball team that won the 2013 5A state championship. As result his baseball career took a hit intionally.
“Out of high school, I wasn’t recruited at all,” said Bertness. “Part of that was that I didn’t play that much in high school. I played basketball during fall ball, I didn’t get to play the select baseball during the fall. I didn’t get to go to showcases.”
“I think that was one of the reason that I didn’t get noticed that much,” said Bertness about not getting recruited.
“My senior year, I didn’t start playing baseball till after spring break because we won state that year.”
Bertness, a left-handed pitcher, was a standout in Lamar Little League, helping lead the Lamar American All-stars to an East Texas State championship and within an out of advancing to the Little League World Series.
He finished his prep career with a 9-1 record with a 1.67 ERA at Travis High School. He was a second-team All-district selection.
Two teammates, Charcer Burks and Jon Tauzin, tried to get Berness to join them at McLennan Community College.
“They told their coach about me, he came out and watched me,” recalled Bertness.
“He said he didn’t have any scholarship money but I could walk on there. That was pretty much the only offer I had. The only option.”
There is a level of vindication after being overlooked to be drafted in the MLB Draft.
“I just went there and worked hard, said Bertness. “The rest is history.”
Bertness finished his sophomore season at McLennan, appearing in 18 games with 9.79 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio in 76 1/3 innings.
Now Bertness’ focus is 100 percent on baseball.
“I’m excited, I get to focus on baseball only,” added Bertness about his expectations doing to rookie camp. “I don’t have to go to class anymore.
“I’m excited to work with the professional coaches and let them critique my game. I’m excited to be around the game.”