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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Norwell shortstop Josh VanMeter was drafted Friday by the San Diego Padres, which means he could be with the TinCaps in the future.

Padres draft Norwell shortstop

VanMeter wants state title, assignment to TinCaps

– While there may still be unfinished business for Josh VanMeter, what with him being the starting pitcher for his Norwell team in the Class 3A baseball semistate today in Kokomo, Friday was a once-in-a-lifetime day.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior was chosen by the San Diego Padres in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball draft. And with it comes the strong possibility of playing with the Padres’ Class A affiliate, the TinCaps of the Midwest League.

“It’ll be nice to have family come around,” said VanMeter, who was drafted as a shortstop. “I won’t have to pay for a place to stay or stay with a host family. I can stay in my own house 10 minutes away from Parkview Field. … Hopefully, I’ll not be there that long.”

Although TinCaps general manager Mike Nutter would enjoy an extended stay from VanMeter.

“This is really cool that they picked him,” Nutter said of the possibility of a local player making a career stop at Parkview Field. “To be honest, I love Indiana baseball. I thought if Josh went, that would be great, and then my selfish thought was for the Padres to get him.”

From the moment regional scout Mark Conner laid eyes on VanMeter, the shortstop was on San Diego’s radar.

“For us, he’s an athletic shortstop that has really good instincts for the game and has good all-around athletic ability, and he has the feel to hit,” Conner said.

Hit VanMeter can do.

Entering today’s 1 p.m. semistate game against Western, VanMeter has a .444 batting average with nine home runs, 36 RBI, 55 runs and an .843 slugging percentage. And while he won’t be asked to take the mound for the Padres, he has a 12-1 pitching record for Norwell with 98 strikeouts.

VanMeter, who orally committed to play for Illinois State last summer, thought he would go somewhere between the third and 10th round. So when the draft resumed Friday with the third round, he and his family “were pretty much glued” to the online results.

Finally, as the 148th overall selection, the name Josh VanMeter appeared; property of the San Diego Padres.

“It’s surreal, but it’s also a dream come true,” VanMeter said. “Every little kid dreams of being a professional baseball player; to get paid to do something they love. It’s amazing, honestly.”

VanMeter becomes the third Norwell graduate to be recently drafted.

Current Oakland pitcher Jarrod Parker and his teammate from the undefeated 2007 state championship team, Scott Woodward, were selected in the draft. Parker was a first-round selection by the Arizona Diamondbacks, and after a stellar career at Coastal Carolina, Woodward was chosen by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I think I’ll sleep pretty good tonight,” VanMeter said late Friday, when a long day was finally coming to an end. “I didn’t get much sleep (Thursday) night, but now that it’s all done, I’m going to relax and play tomorrow, and go try to win a state championship for Norwell High School.”

stwarden@jg.net

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