Ben Rortvedt woke up feeling nervous Thursday morning and settled in for a long day that he hoped would end with his name being called in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
At 10:10 p.m., the Verona catcher’s dream came true when he was selected in the second round, 56th overall by the Minnesota Twins.
Earlier in the draft, Rortvedt’s friend, Kenosha Indian Trail shortstop Gavin Lux, was selected 20th overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Rortvedt and Lux had discussed what a big night it could be for the state of Wisconsin, which is hardly a hotbed when it comes to prep baseball prospects.
In fact, Lux ended a 37-year drought by becoming the first high school player from the state to be selected in the first round since Nekoosa outfielder Kevin Brandt was taken 11th overall by the Twins in 1979.
“We talk about it a lot,” Rortvedt said. “It’s kind of cool how we’re both going through the same process. We were able to reach out to each other and ask each other questions.
“We always had each other to lean on when things don’t go our way and have always been there for each other and supporting each other.”
MLB.com had Rortvedt No. 51 on its list of prospects prior to the draft, while he was No. 82 in the Baseball America rankings.
Rortvedt hit .444 with 22 runs scored and 12 RBIs as a senior for the Wildcats, whose season ended with a 2-0 loss to Janesville Craig in a WIAA Division 1 sectional final on Tuesday.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Rortvedt finished the season with an on-base percentage of .568 and a slugging percentage of .667.
Verona coach Brad D’Orazio was impressed by how well Rortvedt handled himself this season despite all the attention he was getting.
Not only did 35 scouts show up to watch one game, but they stuck around afterward to watch Rortvedt take batting practice.
“He’s handled (the draft process) as well as he did with everything else all season, which was just tremendous,” D’Orazio said. “He’s just handled everything very professionally and with a lot of maturity. The only thing I told him is he’s done everything within his power to make a great impression on people. I don’t think he could look back and say, ‘I wish I would have worked harder.’ ”
Rortvedt was the sixth catcher selected overall and the second prep catcher taken.
Now, he has a decision to make. Rortvedt could choose to play collegiately — he’s committed to Arkansas — or elect to begin his professional career.
The slot value for the 56th pick is $1,141,600, though the Twins’ offer for a signing bonus could be higher or lower than that figure.
Rortvedt is getting advice from his uncle, Jeff Curtis, a former area scout in the San Diego Padres organization.
Rortvedt told the State Journal last month that he has a signing-bonus figure in mind — he elected not to disclose it — and he reiterated on Thursday that he will discuss his future with his family and make an informed decision.
“It kind of depends on how it all unfolds,” he said.
Whatever Rortvedt decides, D’Orazio doesn’t expect his star player’s work ethic to change.
“If you ever want to know where he is, there’s a 95 percent chance he’s swinging a bat inside our indoor hitting facility,” D’Orazio said. “He’s just been preparing for this for a long time, so I think he can feel good that he’s done everything he can.”