Warren selected in 23rd round by Mariners

Warren, a junior at Ashland College, was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 23rd round with the 695th pick Wednesday. He learned of his selection by watching the draft from an online stream on his iPad, which he had connected to his television.

“There wasn’t any video today, but we were watching the names go by and then I saw my last name,” said Warren, who graduated from Napoleon High School in 2011. “It was kind of surreal and then we all just started cheering, and then my phone just started blowing up.”

Warren said a Mariners’ scout called a few minutes later and told him he was drafted by the team and what to expect.

“He said they were going to call tomorrow with the details,” said Warren.

Those details include flying Warren out to the team facilities in Seattle for a post-draft physical and then discussion about how to begin his professional baseball career.

“The scout told me before the draft that I was selected by the Mariners that they would decide whether to shut me down for the summer since I have pitched more this year than I ever have or possibly go to a shortened season, which is low A, and maybe pitch two innings per week.”

While the journey to the big leagues is just starting for Warren, getting drafted is the end of a long journey for the Napoleon native.

“I have had a lot of adversity,” said Warren. “After high school there was talk of the draft, but it didn’t happen. I don’t think I put the right stuff down (on the pre-draft forms) and it didn’t work out then.”

After not being drafted out of high school, Warren went to the University of Cincinnati, where he played for two seasons. However, between lack of playing time and differences in coaching philosophy, Warren transferred to Ashland.

At Ashland Warren began thriving, but an injury during a bullpen session in January of 2014 led to Tommy John surgery. Three months later Warren had the surgery and then rehabbed for four months and then began the road back to the pitching mound.

Eleven months after his surgery, Warren pitched his first game for Ashland in Florida. He started 12 games for the Eagles, going 5-4 with a 3.88 ERA and struck out 52 batters in 60.1 innings.

His velocity this spring ranged from 92-96 mph.

Ashland University announced on Twitter that Warren was the seventh player selected in the MLB draft from the school, and the first in 26 years.

He is believed to be the first player from Napoleon High School to be drafted.

“This is a well-deserved opportunity for Art,” said Randy Bachman, manager of the Napoleon American Legion baseball team, which Warren played for two summers. “He has worked extremely hard, been to UC and Ashland, rehabbed from Tommy John and now he can see that all of his hard work has paid off.

“He is also a great example to high school kids that you don’t have to play Division I baseball to get drafted,” added Bachman.

“This is obviously a positive for our program,” said Napoleon baseball coach Mark Stacey, who was Warren’s pitching coach when he played for the Wildcats. “Art Warren, in the 17 years I have been at Napoleon, is the hardest working kid we have had, period. Zach Willeman, too. Both of those guys are self motivated.

“In my 17 years at Napoleon this is a first,” Stacey said of a Wildcat being drafted. “It is something he should be proud of, it’s well deserved.”

Former Napoleon baseball coach Justin Firks, who led the Cats from 2010-12, added that Warren was not only a hard worker, but also one of the top athletes he has ever coached.

“He always graded out at the top in athleticism,” said Firks. “He also handled himself well on the field. He always came ready to play and never shied away from a challenge.”

Warren was a two-time first-team all-conference selection while at Napoleon and was honorable mention all-district as a senior. He set the Napoleon single-season record for strikeouts at 80 (which was broken by Willeman in 2014) and also has the single-game record for strikeouts with 15.

“In the two years that I had him, he always got better,” said Firks. “It appears he has continued to do so in college.”

Warren, the son of Angela Sleigh, said he wouldn’t have made it this far without a lot of help from many coaches — at all different levels.

He singled out Firks and Stacey, along with Dave Rohrbaugh, Todd Geahlen, Chip Gilliland, Jeff Walker and Defiance baseball coach Tim Held, who he said “was a big part of my success.

“With it just being my mom and me and my brother, it took a lot of help from a lot of these coaches to get me here,” said Warren.

The newest Mariner said waiting until the morning’s phone call to find out where he will be headed will make for one of the longest nights he has ever spent.

But the knowledge that he is a professional baseball player will help pass that time.

“I just can’t stop smiling,” said Warren. “I’m so excited. We are definitely going to celebrate a little bit.”

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