PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – A pair of high school pitchers from Portland were selected in the Major League draft in June. Rivals on the field but training partners away from it, Mick Abel and Dylan MacLean now await the start of their first professional training camps.
"We are really the only two kids in the state that are going through what we are going through basically it's a super-similar process together, so it's something that we can only really talk to each other about, it's not something the normal high school senior has to deal with," MacLean.
They say waiting is the hardest part, but for Abel and MacLean, the build-up to MLB draft day was the toughest to navigate.
"It definitely took a toll on me mentally," Abel said.
"There was a ton of uncertainty leading into it, which made it super stressful, so I was just glad to finally hear my name called and get that part of my life over," MacLean said.
Mick, a 6-foot-5 19-year-old fireballer from the Jesuit High class of 2020, went 15th overall to the Philadelphia Phillies. Just the sixth first-round amateur selected from Oregon all-time and the first in a quarter-century.
"I am so gracious they'd allow me to come join their club. They loved me that much to sign me. It makes me nervous just because I am new to this," Abel said. "It makes me happy because I got to this point in my career, and there is just so much that goes with it."
MacLean, a Central Catholic alum, got the call the following day, 100 picks later (115th overall) by the Texas Rangers.
"Being a 4th round pick kind of have me a little chip on my shoulder, so I was just excited to get back to work the next day," McLean said.
"It was so surreal for both of us," Abel said.
Pocketing signing bonuses of more than $4 million and $1 million, Abel and MacLean are still just a couple of teens with big league dreams from the Rose City.
"You know, we'll see. They still have two more installments coming, but to me, they are like little brothers to me. I have been around them so long," MacLean said.
Abel and MacLean were barely dreaming of tee-ball when Kevin Gunderson was the sweeping lefty closer for the back-to-back college World Series Champion Oregon State Beavers.
"I have looked up to him a ton. Being left-handed, from the same area in Portland at me, going to Central Catholic, so he is somebody I really look up to as a mentor in life," Maclean said.
Gunderson Baseball in West Linn has been a place of salvation and work now in masks, of course teaching the fine art of painting the black.
"With this crazy year that we've had where everything is so upside down, it has been very challenging, but I think at the end of the day when the dust settles, things will, this will all help us in the long run," Gunderson said.
After his days in Corvallis, Gundy chased the pro-life in the Atlanta Braves organization. Now, instructing today's best of Oregon is therapeutic after Zoom school dad life to two young sons while his wife virtually teaches her high school students in another room.
"It is nice to just come in here and just take my mind off of being home-school teacher dad and just be able to do what I love and teach pitching," Gunderson said.
"He taught me so much, not just about baseball but just being a better human. He's like a brother to me now, just an amazing guy," Abel said.
The amazing arms of Abel and MacLean now stretch out indoors before drier climates of the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues come calling.
"There is a definitely a sense of pride that comes with it, and it's an honor to say that I am from Oregon," Abel said.
"I still feel like there are a lot of people that maybe doubt me or don't think I should be in the position I am in, so I am just looking forward to proving them wrong," Maclean said.
The lefty and righty are moving on to, if not greener pastures, then indeed bluer skies for the upcoming spring training camps in Florida and Arizona.