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Clint Coulter: Country Strong

Clint Coulter has been hearing his name called quite a bit lately.  Earlier this spring, Clint received a call from Major League Baseball, inviting him to attend the 2012 First-Year Player Draft at the MLB Network headquarters in Secaucus, NJ.  Only 60 players were invited based on projections for the first and compensation rounds of the draft, and Clint’s name was on that list.  

“As soon as I got the invite, that day I was saying ‘I’m all on board.’  They flew me out there and I was just along for the ride,” said Clint about being invited to attend the draft in person.

“I don’t know why people wouldn’t want to go to that, because it was class act.  It was similar to the Under Armour All-America Game.  We got treated like royalty.  They catered to us, acting like we were almost the celebrities. It was really humbling to even be there amongst those guys, [baseball Hall of Famer’s and other players] and to be treated like we were somebody when we’re just getting started at the bottom of the totem pole.  It was a great experience.  We had a dinner and got to meet and greet with everybody before the draft.  It was an awesome experience to speak with Pudge Rodriguez, me being a catcher.”

While Clint is still adjusting to the star treatment, and may never get used to it, there’s no question that he deserves it.  He’s worked hard to reach this point.  There’s a reason that he’s already earned the nickname, “Country Strong.”

“From the Northwest, I’ve barely been playing.  Even just hitting out on the field.  Some people take BP for granted.  I barely get out on the field to take BP.  I was doing something every day.  That’s kind of what my motto is. ‘Do something every day, whatever it is to get better.’  I’ll run the stairs of the city steps next to me.  I’ll run the hills.  I do footwork.  My gym is right next to a full length turf football field so I’ll get my long toss in there.  I’ll pull the sled.  Pull parachutes.  Ladder work, hurdle work.  At the gym I’ll do yoga, I’ll weightlift.  I’m always doing something.  Take a day off and the guy you’re going into battle against isn’t taking a day off.”

Clint’s training and development on the field led to his selection as a 2011 Under Armour All-American.  While Clint had already made a name for himself within the scouting community, his performance in Chicago served as his introduction on a grander scale.

“That’s definitely an opportunity you can’t pass up.  That just puts you on the map.  I’m always going to be an Under Armour guy now!  With the scouts and coaches and the video [on MLB Network].  That video has been played thousands of times for people.  That itself will put you on the map.  Whenever you get an opportunity to play, especially on a platform like that at Wrigley Field…you’ve got to be kidding me.  To me, that’s the best showcase in the world.  You get treated like a big leaguer, even though you’re not.  For a high schooler, that’s the level of competition that you want to be at and the showcase you want to be at, bar none.”

Back to the draft, where Clint was one of only five amateur players who made the trip to Secaucus, joining fellow Under Armour All-American Gavin Cecchini (#12 overall pick), Carlos Correa (#1 overall), Andrew Heaney (#9 overall) and Courtney Hawkins (#13 overall).  Joined by his parents and brother at the MLB Network headquarters, Clint Coulter heard his name called by Major League Baseball for the second time, this time by Bud Selig as the 27th overall selection in the draft.  Clint was one of nine Under Armour All-Americans who were selected in the first round.  In total, 15 Under Armour All-Americans went off the board out of the 60 picks that took place that evening.

The scouts at Baseball Factory first saw Clint in October of 2010 at the Under Armour Showcase – Team One Futures West.  The event had 26 handpicked players, of which eight were selected in this year’s draft.  After Clint, the event was packed with talent that included Carson Kelly (Under Armour All-American, 2nd Round Pick), Justin Black (4th Round Pick), Shilo McCall (9th Round Pick), Andrew Sopko (14th Round Pick), Austin Barr (29th Round), Austin Potter (31st Round) and Zachary Brill (31st Round).  Clint made a solid impression on our scouts and used the Team One Showcase to put his name in consideration for the Under Armour All-America Game.

“I knew the Team One events were huge events, so when I got the opportunity to play in the [Peoria] Stadium at Spring Training, I would have done that at any event, let alone a Team One event.  I knew the competition was going to be great.  Whenever you can get out in front of great competition and they’re all collectively there, it’s something you have to do because it’s a great measure of where your abilities are right now. There’s always going to be scouts and college coaches there so you can show those guys how you stack up compared [to other players].  Team One is a feeder into the [Under Armour] All-America Game.  So that opportunity is huge.  I’d definitely tell any high school player out there that that’s an event you have to make room in your schedule.  It’s definitely must do.”

After a long night at the MLB draft, Clint’s whirlwind of a week continued as his family flew home to Camas, Washington and he rushed back to school for a day and a half.  He then took a flight out to Milwaukee where he would meet with the Brewers and finalize his contract, which included a $1.675 million signing bonus.  Surprising in the current landscape of agents and holdouts, but Clint never took an advisor.  His family handled all communication with scouts, teams and finalized the contract.  

The next time Clint heard his name called was over the loud speaker on Friday, June 8, when he was introduced to the Milwaukee Brewers crowd at Miller Park, prior to their game against the Padres.  After taking in a Brewers’ victory, Clint and fellow first round pick Victor Roache were mobbed by fans hoping to get an autograph from the future stars.

“We did a press conference, kind of a meet and greet with the staff,” said Clint.  “[They did a] jersey presentation and we got announced out on the field, on the big JumboTron.  It was crazy how warm and welcoming the fans were.  After the game we were just going to walk out and leave to our cars.  We were there for like 45 minutes, talking to the fans and signing stuff, [taking] pictures.  It was amazing!”  

Working on six hours sleep, Clint headed back to the Northwest for his last weekend at home before taking off for Arizona to join the AZL Brewers Rookie League Team.  On Saturday evening, his father called Clint’s name again.  Enough of the celebrity treatment, it was time to cut the grass.  

“We live on an acre and a half.  I got on the John Deere.  Probably the last time, so it was a little reminiscent of all the times I’ve cut it.  It will be good to be done.”

At least for Clint, cutting the grass was for a good reason.  His high school graduation party on Sunday at the family’s home was an opportunity to catch up with family and friends, and act like an 18-year-old for a few hours.  While Clint has received a lot of attention and acclaim over the past week, he’s quick to connect it back to his family.  He clearly understands that he was not alone in this journey and that the support will follow him on his path to the Big Leagues.

“I’d be nowhere without my family.  I think I was the only first rounder to not have an advisor.  I think that’s definitely an attest to my parent’s involvement.  Most kids would come home and their mom would ask them if they got their homework done.  I was coming home asking my mom if she got her homework done with all the questionnaires and all the different organizational stuff.  She was just amazing with how organized and on top of stuff she was.  And then my dad, throughout the years he’s always been my support.  He played at Portland State collegiately, so he taught me definitely the foundation of my fundamentals and my mindset. Without my parents and my family support, I’d definitely be nothing.  They share all the success with me.”

On Monday, he got one last call.  This time it was when he walked across the stage to accept his high school diploma.  A terrific ending to an unforgettable week.  As Clint heads out to Phoenix today to become a professional baseball player, it’s in hopes that this will be the first week in a long, successful baseball career.

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