Baseball draft: Three’s a charm for local players

Virginia junior second baseman and Shenendehowa High School graduate Branden Cogswell was talking wi

Virginia junior second baseman and Shenendehowa High School graduate Branden Cogswell was talking with Saint Joseph’s junior catcher and Colonie High School grad Brian O’Keefe all day Friday as the second day of the Major League Baseball draft progressed during the afternoon.

“At one point, [O’Keefe] actually said, ‘Imagine if we go back-to-back, or within five picks of each other?’ ” Cogswell said.

They didn’t go back-to-back, but O’Keefe almost had it right with his prediction of going within five picks of one another.

Cogswell and O’Keefe were selected three spots apart late in the seventh round of the draft. The Oakland Athletics picked Cogswell with the 222nd overall pick. O’Keefe was selected 225th overall by the St. Louis Cardinals.

They weren’t the only local players selected in Day 2. Siena junior pitcher and Broadalbin-Perth graduate Matt Gage was picked in the 10th round (298th overall) by the San Francisco Giants.

It was the second straight day a player from the Capital Region was picked in the draft. On Thursday, Shaker grad and East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman was a first-round selection of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Cogswell said he didn’t find out that O’Keefe was picked shortly after he was until about an hour afterwards.

“One of my buddies who plays with Brian in the summer league told me, ‘Your boy Brian just got drafted,’ ” said Cogswell, who is batting .294. “I called him real quick to congratulate him.”

“It was crazy how it happened,” said O’Keefe, who batted .350 for the Hawks this season. “We had been talking all day and telling the other to hang in there. It was awesome.”

Gage, who was 4-7 with a 4.50 ERA for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference-champion Saints, was getting nervous as the 10th round approached. It would be the final round of the day, and he didn’t want to face the prospect of having to wait to hear his name called today.

“I was very excited,” Gage said. “I actually broke down into tears. It’s been my dream since I was 2 years old to play professional baseball. Everything leading up to the 10th round was a little stressed out. Definitely a big weight was taken off of my shoulders.”

Cogswell isn’t worried about signing with the Athletics just yet. He has some important business. Virginia faces Maryland in the NCAA baseball tournament best-of-three super regionals starting today. The winner goes to the College World Series.

If Cogswell does sign after the season, he could end up with the Vermont Lake Monsters, Oakland’s New York-Penn League affiliate.

“One thing I’m focusing on right now, and that is [today’s] game,” Cogswell said. “After I sit down and have dinner, it’s full-force worrying about [this] afternoon. Signing will happen when it does. I’m not worried about that. Oakland knows that we’re still playing. It will all work out when the season is over.”

O’Keefe and Gage are expected to sign shortly. O’Keefe will start his career with the NY-P’s State College Spikes when the season opens June 13. O’Keefe will get to play at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium when the Spikes visit the Tri-City ValleyCats July 19-21.

“It’s going to be really special,” O’Keefe said.

Gage will most likely start with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of the Northwest League. That season begins June 13.

“I want to get started as soon as I can,” Gage said. “That’s the plan.”

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