If you've been following the career trajectory of Justin Bellinger, you might have seen this one coming.
The St. Sebastian's star was selected in the 11th round by the St. Louis Cardinals, to kick off the third and final day of the Major League Baseball Draft today, the second local high schooler from Massachusetts to come off the board.
You might say Bellinger, a Weston resident, is all too familiar with the "Cardinal Way" mystique. During the offseason Bellinger takes hitting instructions from Oliver Marmol, manager of the State College (Pa.) Spikes, the Cards' short-season A affiliate. He has also taken pitching instruction from Arthur "Ace" Adams, a Longmeadow resident and pitching coach within the Cards' system, since he was 11 years old.
"I love the way they manage their organization," Bellinger said. "They always talk about integrity and commitment to playing for chamionships. I'm super glad they chose me."
The 6-foot-6, 230-pound Bellinger, a left-handed hitter, is one of the best power bats among the high school ranks in Massachusetts. His numbers this spring are reflective of that, hitting .490 with 30 RBI, three home runs and drawing 25 walks in 17 games.
Earlier this spring, one American League scout told ESPNBoston.com Bellinger is "a physical specimen" with a good amount of athletic upside.
"He’s got tons of raw power that he showcased over the last three years," the scout said. "With him, you’re finding a guy who might have 70 power on the 20-80 scale, and it’s hard to find that power from the left side."
At the moment, Bellinger says he is leaning toward honoring his commitment to Duke University.
"I'm kinda still deciding and figuring things out, but I kinda wanna go to Duke and get back and improve my draft status," he said. "I also haven’t heard much from the Cardinals as far as money. Everyone at Duke has been willing to give me their time to make me a better baseball player. I'm still trying to figure things out, but I'm mostly leaning towards Duke right now."