LAFAYETTE — It's the end of the night at the Hayden Cantrelle Draft party. His family and friends are gathered around the kitchen and it's time for a toast.
"It's not just an individual effort," Cantrelle says "Everybody that's here has done something to help me get to where I am. So I guess, go Brewers, right!"
The former UL shortstop had just been drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 5th round of the MLB Draft. But this celebration was for more than just his lifelong dreams turning into reality. This was also the perfect end for a day filled with surprises and emotions.
Let's take you back to 4:30 pm, when the 2nd round of the draft was just underway and Cantrelle was cool, calm and collected.
"I'm really excited. It's getting closer to the moment. The whole time you don't know because you're just waiting," Cantrelle said. "I guess whenever the phone calls start coming in more frequently. Imma start getting butterflies and stuff I'm sure."
Cantrelle's phone began to buzz during the 3rd round. Unlike the NFL and NBA draft, baseball holds it's negotiations before the pick.
"It's not like what you may think, where it comes across the screen and you get drafted," Cantrelle explains. "The club has to ask you if you would sign for that. Because it hurts them if they draft you and they waste a pick."
It's around 7 pm now. As selections go by on the TV, you can feel the anticipation in the room building. More calls are coming into his phone as we enter the 4th round. While most would be nervous, Cantrelle is still optimistic.
"I'm super excited. That means the time's coming closer," Cantrelle said. "We're getting closer to what we want. I'm just enjoying the atmosphere right now."
We're about to roll into the 5th hour of the draft, and as the 5th and final round begins, Cantrelle has a choice to make. Two MLB teams have emerged with identical offers. It's now on him to decide which organization he wants to play for. But even then, negotiations are still fluid.
"It's just a big roller coaster of emotions. You slowly, just wait and you wonder. Your mind plays games on you. You want to go for (slot) value, but you just hold in there."
But it was a 3rd team, the Milwaukee Brewers, that ended up with the winning numbers. And in the process, delivered the moment Cantrelle had been waiting for all his life.
"You think about all those times where you might've not been enough for your team. You might've not been as good as you thought you were growing up," Cantrelle explains. "You worked so hard and like (Coach Tony Robichaux) used to say, you keep the blinders on the mule. At the end of the day, you look up and get a reward."
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