Iowa's Cole McDonald delivers a pitch this past season, and on Wednesday, he realized his dream of playing professional baseball as he was drafted by the Houston Astros. (Photo courtesy of the University of Iowa)

Astros take New Hampton's McDonald in MLB draft

Former Chickasaw and Hawkeye star heads to Florida this weekend to begin professional career

We’re guessing a whole bunch of New Hampton-area residents have just become pretty big Houston Astros fans as the team drafted former Chickasaw and University of Iowa pitcher Cole McDonald in the 15th round of the Major League Baseball draft.

McDonald, coming off a brilliant senior season, received the call Wednesday and he said he expects to head to West Palm Beach, Fla., this weekend to participate in a mini-camp before the Astros assign him to a minor league team.

“It’s a pretty cool feeling,” McDaonld said, “and I knew I just had to be patient and wait for the call. When it came, I didn’t cry or anything like that, but I was pretty speechless. I mean it’s what every kid dreams about.”

The 2015 New Hampton High School graduate finished his career in Iowa in style as he recovered from a tough start to his senior season to finish with a 6-3 record and 3.54 earned-run average, that included a 3-0 mark and 3.29 ERA.

He saved his best performance for last with a dominating performance against Indiana in the opening round of the

Big Ten tournament. McDonald went eight innings, gave up just five hits and one run and struck out nine in the Hawkeyes’ 4-2 win over the regular season champion Hoosiers.

And he’s overcome some major hurdles — he had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and struggled through a disastrous sophomore season at Iowa — to become a Major League Baseball draft pick.

“I think I have a pretty strong faith, and I knew there’s a plan to everything,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “I just told myself through those times, ‘Don’t quit, just keeping working hard and it will get better.’ That’s what I tried to do, just keeping working hard for my family and for anyone in New Hampton and at Iowa that was behind me all the way.”

— For more on this story, see the June 11 Tribune

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