Rockies Draft Crockett

Harvard senior chosen in third round with 81st pick

The wait, it appears, was worth it. After being selected much lower than expected in last year’s Major League Baseball amateur draft, Harvard senior Ben Crockett chose to take a temporary pass on the big leagues and return to school. Now, a year later, he has just completed an extraordinary senior season, he’s in line to receive his Harvard degree tomorrow and he’s heading to the big leagues, after all.

Crockett was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the third round of the 2002 draft yesterday. The Rockies—whose director of player development is former Harvard baseball captain Mike Hill ’93—plucked Crockett with the 81st overall pick.

Crockett, who throws a 92 mile-per-hour fastball and a nasty, biting curveball, had been tabbed as a major league prospect ever since he earned Pitcher of the Year honors in the prestigious Cape Cod League in 2000. Throughout his junior and senior seasons, his starts attracted crowds of pro scouts armed with radar guns.

Last year, the Boston Red Sox selected the Topsfield, Mass., product in the June draft, but not until the 10th round. Leading up to the draft, Crockett had been projected to go as high as the 53rd overall pick. The draft-day freefall likely stemmed from concern over an elbow injury that Crockett had suffered the previous fall.

Unsatisfied with Boston’s contract offers and determined to prove he was in good health, Crockett returned to Harvard this fall and was elected team captain. He did more than just hold up over the course of the season—he withstood the twin burdens of an increased workload and the weight of his team’s postseason hopes.

Crockett’s pitch counts during the heart of the Ivy season frequently pushed 150, as he carried the Crimson on his back towards the league title. When Harvard needed to win a one-game playoff against a menacing Brown squad last month, Crockett took the ball on three days’ rest and hurled a complete-game gem for the victory.

Crockett ended his career last weekend at Rice University in the NCAA Regionals. He pitched in the Crimson’s 4-2 loss to Washington on Saturday. Crockett performed well, striking out nine batters in nine innings, but a four-run rally that started with two outs in the fourth spoiled his otherwise solid outing.

“Crockett did a great job, not only today, but for the entire season, for his entire career,” Harvard Coach Joe Walsh said after the game. “He’s the No. 1 pitcher on any ballclub, and he’s certainly our No. 1. He showed that today.”

Crockett will depart Harvard as the school’s all-time strikeout king. Over the course of his remarkable senior season, he set new Crimson records for most strikeouts in a game (17), season (117) and a career (263). He was named Ivy Co-Pitcher of the Year last month.

Assuming he agrees to terms with Colorado, Crockett will be the second Harvard pitcher in as many years to sign with a major league organization. John Birtwell ’01, the 1999 Ivy Pitcher of the Year, was drafted by the Detroit Tigers last year and spent last summer pitching for their New York-Penn League affiliate.