Rick Foresteire listened to the question, paused and then admitted defeat.
Name the last New England high school position player who was selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft?
Foresteire, now in his 13th season as the baseball coach at Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, had no answer. What he does know is that the next New England position player taken in the first round could be his current center fielder, senior Rhett Wiseman.
“I've heard everything from the end of the first round to not getting drafted at all because of his signability,” said a scout from an American League organization. “He's not for everybody, but a certain type of organization might pay that kind of money.
“The question is: Is he a center fielder or a left fielder? I don't know if he has the arm to play right field.”
Wiseman committed to Vanderbilt following his sophomore season at BB&N. Former Salisbury Prep (Conn.) shortstop Anthony Hewitt –- the last New England position player taken in the first round -– also committed to Vanderbilt before the Philadelphia Phillies took him with the No. 24 pick in the 2008 draft. Hewitt elected to sign with Philadelphia.
“If the situation is right I think [Wiseman] would entertain signing,” Foresteire said. “He's a very good student too [Wiseman is BB&N's student body president]. He's not a kid who would be ducking college because of academic deficiencies.
“I think he could be ready to start a pro career. It'll depend on money –- where he's taken in the draft.”
Wiseman's close friend Tyler Beede faced a similar situation last year, following his senior season at Lawrence Academy. Toronto selected Beede, a pitcher, with the 21st pick in last summer's draft, but he elected to attend Vanderbilt instead.
Wiseman's strength? Has to be his speed. He has run the 60-yard dash in 6.47 seconds. Anything 6.5 or better is considered above average.
“My speed is one of my top weapons, whether it's stealing a base or tracking down a fly ball,” he said. “Just getting on the basepaths I can change a game.
“There's another weapon that I consider to be my best –- my ability to hit for power. I'm a left-handed swinger [he throws right-handed] and my bat speed is a God-given gift. It's something I've had since I was young.”
Wiseman, a Mansfield resident, has been a starter for BB&N since his freshman season. He hit .447 with 11 home runs and stole 29 bases for the Knights last year. The BB&N program is seeking its 16th consecutive winning season and 12th ISL championship this spring.
“We knew he was going to be a high-level college player after his freshman year,” Foresteire said. “A potential first-round draft pick? That we didn't know. His bat speed and raw speed -– those are things you can't teach. You can improve on it, but it's either there or it isn't.
“He's a tremendous hard-worker. Loves the game. Dedicated in the weight room. In terms of attitude, you're not gonna find a better kid.”
Wiseman blazed through the recruiting process. He took unofficial visits to Boston College and Clemson before he visited Vanderbilt. He committed to the Commodores before he left campus, and then canceled planned visits to Georgia Tech and North Carolina.
Wiseman was 15 when he made his college decision.
“It was the third stop on my recruiting trip and I knew nothing could top it,” Wiseman explained. “I was walking on the field with my dad at night and I said, 'This is where I want to play college baseball.' When you know, you know.”
Wiseman became a household name among professional scouts after his performance at the Perfect Game National Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla., last year. The event featured some of the best high school players in the country.
Wiseman said his performance at that showcase earned him invitations to other national events last summer. Since then, representatives from 26 major league teams have visited the Wiseman home.
“I was fortunate to play well,” he said. “I wasn't a big name going in. I was low profile. It really put me on the map.”
As for this summer's draft, Wiseman may find himself in a position similar to the one Beede was in last year.
“As far as the draft goes, I cannot make a wrong decision,” Wiseman said. “It's, What step do I want to take in my life? Vanderbilt is incredible. I couldn't make a better school for myself. Being a pro baseball player is also very seductive. It won't be an easy decision.”