- Brendan C. Hall, ESPN Staff Writer
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Not even ACC-caliber baseball could have prepared Chris Shaw for the onslaught he received Monday night at his home in Lexington, Massachusetts.
“I’m looking at my phone right now,” the Boston College outfielder said some two hours after being selected 31st overall by the San Francisco Giants. “I’ve sifted through a few, but I have 132 missed messages, 352 emails, because I get the Twitter notifications on there too, and 450 follow requests, because I’m private. My phone’s about to explode. It’s unbelievable.”
Three years ago as a senior at Lexington High, Shaw only found out he’d been selected in the 26th round by the New York Mets after browsing a local reporter’s Twitter feed. Monday was a whole different story.
As Shaw watched the MLB Network with close to a dozen friends and family members, the message from the Giants alerting him of his selection was buried beneath some 300-odd texts from folks who had just seen his name flash across the screen seconds earlier. Friends filmed Shaw’s emotional reaction, to which he laughed, “I’m sure that will get out somehow and circulate.”
“It’s hard to put into words something that I’ve dreamed about since I stepped onto the field as a T-baller. Something I’ve always dreamed about is pursuing this professionally and making it to the big leagues,” Shaw said. “I got a little emotional when my name was called. It was pure joy. I was ecstatic. I’m incredibly humble and thankful, and I can’t wait to get going.”
As the congratulatory notes poured in, Shaw couldn’t help but be floored by a text message from Giants legend Will Clark. Shaw grew up a big fan of “Will The Thrill” and was beside himself.
“That was particularly special to me because he’s one of those players I just grew up always idolizing,” Shaw said. "It was actually weird because I was watching the Mississippi State documentary about him and [Rafael] Palmeiro last night, funny how that came around.”
With a prodigious frame -- he's 6-foot-3 and 248 pounds -- and demonstrating raw power rare for a left-handed bat, Shaw came into the spring with heavy hype and whispers of a late first-round projection. One American League scout mused to ESPNBoston.com that Shaw was “the best left-handed power hitter in the country”.
Thirty games into his junior season this spring with Boston College, Shaw was arguably the hottest he’d been in his college career, on a 15-game hitting streak, when he suffered a hamate fracture in his right hand during a mid-April series with Clemson. Given a recovery timetable of three to six weeks, Shaw instead returned in 18 days, missing just 12 games and playing through pain. He still ended up leading the Eagles in nearly every major hitting category (.319/.411/.611, 43 RBIs, 11 HRs) while striking out just 26 times over a 54-game season, earning his second consecutive All-ACC honor.
“It’s all about the plate discipline he’s had from his freshman year to now. It’s night and day,” an AL scout told ESPNBoston.com. “You look at his numbers this year, I think he had 26 strikeouts and 22 walks. For a power hitter that didn’t have any protection at all in the entire lineup -- not one kid hitting in front of him or behind him -- they could pitch around him all day long, and the fact that he had that is pretty impressive.”
Some scouts wondered whether Shaw would slip a bit in light of the injury, even as far as the second round. In his final rankings heading into the draft, ESPN’s Keith Law had as Shaw the No. 62 overall prospect in the draft class, rating his power at a 65 on a 20-80 scale but remaining concerned about his defense.
But the Giants remained sold on taking him early on.
“I hit .165 my freshman year and could have easily mailed it in, and decided I wanted to be a below-average ballplayer and enjoy four years of college,” Shaw said. “But I chose to gut it out and try and get better and just deal with it. Everything I’ve dealt with is gonna make me that much better going forward. Couldn’t thank the Giants enough for having the faith in me, and not wavering in their decision to select me, and going off the player that they know I am and hopefully I’m going to turn into.”
In a conversation last week with ESPNBoston.com, Shaw said he hadn’t given possible suitors a desired number for a signing bonus, saying he just wants to come to a deal as quickly as possible and get started on his pro career.
Shaw didn’t disclose what number his advisors and the Giants agreed upon, or whether it was at slot, but he expects the process to move pretty quickly.
“They kinda understood what it was gonna take to sign me before they picked me,” he said.
79dJohn McGuirk, Special to ESPNBoston.com
191dBrendan C. Hall