Charleston, Missouri native and former Missouri Bull James Naile had just finished his best season as a college pitcher. The red shirt junior was just one year removed from Tommy John surgery and had enough credits t0 graduate from UAB. What he didn't have was assurance that he'd be drafted.
He finished his junior season with a 9-3 record, 2.86 ERA and 83 strike outs. If that wasn't impressive enough, he held opponents to a .196 batting average which led all Conference USA pitchers. He was named 1st team All Conference, only the 16th in UAB history.
The UAB Blazers had a great late season run but the year ended short of Omaha so Naile cleaned out his locker and was waiting to see if his name would be called during the MLB draft.
His dream came true when the Oakland A's selected him with the 608th overall pick in the 20th round.
"It's a dream come true", said Naile. "I have played baseball since I was little and I've worked hard. I always dreamed of playing in the big leagues, now I have a chance. I am honored to have this opportunity to play for the Oakland Athletics."
Naile played for the Lids Mo Bulls first team back in 2010-2011. Eight players off that first team went on to play college baseball but only Naile has been drafted.
"The Bulls started their program at a good time for me. I needed to see competition outside the area", said Naile. Without the Bulls and some of my previous opportunities this would not be possible. I am grateful to the Bulls organization, it's coaches and all the players I played with through those years."
"James was and is one of the most talented players to come through our program", said Glenn Campbell, Director fro the Lids Missouri Bulls. "Mitch Wood and I coached that team and James was as good at the plate and in the field as he was on the mound. No one worked harder or prepared more than he did. It's no surprise at all he's had the success he's had."
The Lids Missouri Bulls started their program 6 years ago because there wasn't a lot of players in the area getting looked at by colleges to play baseball. The program targeted players who's ambition was to play baseball on some college level.
"The Missouri Bulls pointed me in the right direction to help get me exposed to college coaches and help me be successful in my pursuit to play college baseball", said Naile. "We played against some unbelievable teams and players and I think it really helped take my game to another level. God has given me many blessings and the Missouri Bulls program was one of them. I'm looking forward to heading to Phoenix and start my professional career."
Mitch Wood who is in the Missouri Baseball Hall of Fame and one of the main people involved in starting the Missouri Bulls coached against Naile in high school while he was at Oran and Naile was at Charleston. "He was as good as any kid I've ever coached against", said Wood. When he was on the mound you knew runs would be hard to come by. He could swing the bat and he could play defense. He was a very talented kid for sure. I wish him the best as he starts his pro career."
So do the rest of the Bulls and for that matter anyone who knows him. He comes from a great family and he's a special kid. Oakland got a steal when they got him in the 20th round!!