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Rankin drafted by Rockies

Hartselle baseball pitcher Will Rankin is living his childhood dream as a Major League Baseball draft pick of the Colorado Rockies.

Rankin, a 6-1, 190-pound right hander, was selected in the 17th round of the baseball draft on June 7 and signed a contract with the Rockies two days later. He has been assigned to play summer league ball with a Rockies’ farm club in Washington.

Rankin was watching the draft on television at his parents’ home in Hartselle when his name was called.

“I was confident about being drafted, but I thought it might come in a later round,” Rankin said. “It’s a blessing. It’s all I every wanted to do. It still feels unreal.”

Rankin said he grew up a fan of the Atlanta Braves but feels comfortable playing for the Rockies.

“They’re a quality ball team and I look forward to being a part of their organization,” he said. “My goal is to work hard and do everything I can to contribute to their success.”

Rankin pitched for Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Ga., as a senior, after signing with Wallace State out of high school and playing two years for them and spending a year at the University of North Alabama.

As a senior at Southern Polytechnic, he pitched seven complete games and had a 9-2 record with a 1.94 ERA. His strikeout pitch is a 93-95 mph fastball. He also throws a splitter, cutter and changeup.

Rankin said a Rockies scout was the first to contact him about playing professional baseball following an NAIA showcase game in Montgomery last fall. He had workouts with four other teams prior to the draft.

Rankin’s baseball career spans 17 years of Dixie Youth, high school and collegiate experience, in addition to six years of private coaching.

“I’m indebted to Coach William Booth for giving me the opportunity to play for the Hartselle Tigers and preparing me to play at the college level,” Rankin said. “My pitching coach, Todd Burns of Huntsville also played an important role in my development and my coaches at Southern Poly got my name on the maps of professional scouts.

“And I wouldn’t be where I am today had it not been for the tremendous support and encouragement I’ve received from my parents, Scotty and Sally Byrd and the late Jim Rankin.”