If someone looked up towns or cities that have produced the most Major League Baseball players, Severna Park probably wouldn’t be at the top of the list. After all, only a handful of players who grew up in the Severna Park area have ever been drafted, let alone made “The Show.”
However, when the San Diego Padres drafted SPHS shortstop Jackson Merrill in the first round of the MLB Draft in July, it marked the first time a player from SPHS was taken that high. Just five players from SPHS have ever made it to the majors and only three were drafted. Josh Banks was drafted in the 34th round in 2000 while Mark Grier went in the 26th round in 1975. Of course, the two most famous baseball players from Severna Park, Gavin Floyd and Mark Teixeira, were drafted No. 4 and No. 5 in the 2001 MLB Draft, but they both went to Mount St. Joseph in Baltimore.
Nearly a decade before Merrill, another player from the Severna Park area was getting a considerable amount of interest from the major leagues. Sander Beck, a right-handed pitcher from Millersville who attended Severn School and then the University of Maryland, knows exactly how dreams of a long baseball career can end quickly.
First drafted out of college as a junior by the Orioles in the 33rd round of the 2011 draft, Sander decided to return to school, and after his senior year, signed with the Orioles as an undrafted rookie free agent. But just two seasons into his time in the Orioles system, he was released. Beck said that was tough, but that like everything else in life, you have to be ready for such an event.
“For me, it was having a plan and then a backup plan,” he explained. “I was ready to experience something different, though it was incredibly sad when I was released because I wasn’t expecting it at all. So while I wasn’t expecting it, I had sort of gotten my foot in the door at Under Armour as a potential backup.”
While it is always important to have a backup plan in case things don’t go right, Beck said an equally important aspect for young players to keep in mind is their actions on and off the field. “Control what you can control,” Beck stated. “Show that you’re a good teammate, even if you’re struggling. It’s important to remember that scouts aren’t there just to evaluate how good of a player you are but what kind of a person you are. [Scouts] call it the good makeup.” Sander continued, saying that he has friends who are scouts now who are always most impressed by the high school kids who show maturity on the field.
“I’ve certainly learned a lot of valuable lessons playing baseball,” said Beck. “Being humble was one of them, keeping my ego in check. It’s doing a little a lot, not a lot a little, that will help you go a long way.”