By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
Arguably the most exciting day of Preston White’s life to this point was characterized by chill.
White, a junior pitcher who topped out at 97 MPH at The Master’s University this year, had lunch with his parents at a Memphis-area country club Wednesday.
Then he returned home to wield his 60-degree wedge in the backyard. As he chipped golf balls, he received the call he’d been waiting on.
The San Francisco Giants picked White in the 24th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday, making him the fourth Mustang selected by the Giants in the last three years.
White, who held a 3.43 ERA as a junior, said he envisioned signing with the Bay Area club and beginning his pro career but wasn’t positive what his plan was.
His selection didn’t come as a surprise — but the suitor did.
“It was kind of crazy,” said White, who intimated he hadn’t heard from the Giants during the draft until after he’d learned of his selection.
Recent history says it shouldn’t necessarily have been a surprise.
In 2016, San Francisco took TMU’s Conner Menez (14th round) and Brandon Van Horn (19th round). A year later the team picked Mustang Michael Sexton (14th).
Each, including White, was seen by San Francisco scout Chuck Fick.
“(Fick) is big on character,” White says. “He loves guys who are going to work hard and aren’t going to mess around.”
White was no stranger to the draft. The Dodgers plucked him from NCAA Division 3 Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama as an outfielder in the 38th round last year.
White elected to stay in college and transfer to Master’s, a school he learned about from current Mustang Aaron Shackelford while playing in the Alaska Baseball League.
“The main reason I came to Master’s was to grow in my faith, grow in my relationship with Christ, grow in my knowledge of the Word,” White said, “and get prepared for what I felt the Lord was calling me to.
“I just didn’t feel I was ready for it baseball-wise last year — or really spiritually.”
After a season at TMU?
“(Master’s coach Monte) Brooks helped me a ton,” White said. “He’ll tell you the strides I made on the mound from the fall into the spring.”
White said Brooks helped fine-tune his mechanics and clean up his delivery. Jason Karkenny, a 2017 Master’s product and the program’s all-time winningest pitcher, watched White throw bull-pens, too, and offered input.
And TMU assistant coach Nick Jorgensen worked with White on what pitches to throw in what counts and to which hitters.
“It was a collective effort,” White said.
White struck out 40 batters and walked 14 in 44 2/3 innings for the Mustangs in 2018, often being tasked with the game’s most-crucial innings. He was usually up to the task. His six saves were tied for the third most in the Golden State Athletic Conference.
He finished the year with eight losses, but most were of the tough-luck variety. In five of the defeats, he allowed one or zero earned runs.
Serving as TMU’s everyday right fielder, White batted .326 in 190 at-bats, driving in 25 runs and tallying 21 extra-base hits.
“He’s an awesome player at the plate and on the mound,” Shackelford said of White. “But most importantly his example of all-out devotion to the Lord is what I”ll remember.”