GREENSBORO – North Carolina A&T senior shortstop Luke Tendler (6-0, 195, Wilmington, N.C.) was selected with 876th overall pick in the 29th round of the 2014 MLB amateur draft by the Texas Rangers on Saturday.
Tendler became the seventh Aggie selected in the MLB draft in the last 10 years. He is the 18th player in school history to be drafted. He also joined two former teammates – Xavier Macklin in 2011 and Kelvin Freeman in 2013 – as draftees.
"It was a great experience for me," said Tendler, referring to the past two days. "I was nervous the whole time."
The nerves began for Tendler on Friday when the Rangers called him and told him he would be selected in the eighth round. When that didn't happen, he was told to stay by his phone. He then received a call from the New York Yankees on Saturday saying they were going to take him in the 28th round. That never occurred, but the Rangers did eventually follow through by taking the Aggies star player.
"I enjoyed my time at A&T," said Tendler. "Being around our coaching staff and learning from them made me mature as a player. It made me a good enough prospect to be a professional player."
Tendler is expected to sign Saturday or Sunday. The team has not indicated where he will be assigned, but the normal protocol is to send college draftees to Arizona for a short spring training before assigning him to a league for a short season.
"I'm just focused on making the big leagues," said Tendler. "I want to do all I can do to make it to the next level, the top level."
Tendler led the Aggies in batting in three out of the seasons he played, while starting 199 out of the 200 games he played at A&T. His career highlights include being named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, a Louisville Slugger third-team All-American as a junior and he was named MEAC Preseason Player of the Year in 2013.
He is a career .349 hitter with 24 home runs and 179 RBI. He also finished with 66 doubles, 15 triples and a .561 slugging percentage. As a junior, he was fourth in the nation in doubles per game.
"We thought he would go a little higher, but the bottom line is, he's got a shot. He's got an opportunity," said A&T head baseball coach Joel Sanchez. "The Texas Rangers are a great organization. If he goes in there and puts up the numbers and performs like we know he can, he will do well."
Sanchez said the Rangers drafted Tendler as an outfielder. Tendler proved during his career he can play multiple positions, which should help him at the next level.
"This is good for Luke and this is good for the program," said Sanchez. "It gives the program credibility when you consistently have guys drafted to the professional ranks. To have (Kelvin) Freeman drafted last year and Luke drafted this year, it gives the program notoriety, good publicity, it's just a win/win for everybody."