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Photo by Gerald Castillo

Shuffield taken in MLB draft by Minnesota Twins

Texas State Baseball
Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Dalton Shuffield wasn’t much of a Minnesota Twins fan before this week. He had friends who were, though.

When he played with the Waterloo Bucks of the Northwoods League in Iowa in the summer of 2020, he stayed with “the biggest” Twins fans, Chico and Peggy Gress. When Shuffield was selected by Minnesota on Monday with the 294th overall pick of the 2022 MLB Draft, he made sure his former host family was one of the first calls he made.

“Obviously they were watching,” Shuffield said. “They were super happy that I was drafted by that organization.”

The 5-foot-9, 170-pound shortstop posted a career-high slash line of .378/.444/.668 this season, the culmination of a productive five years as a starter for Texas State. Shuffield’s emergence as one of the top players in the Sun Belt earned him the conference’s Player of the Year award, helped the Bobcats reach the final round of the NCAA Palo Alto Regional against No. 2 Stanford on June 6, and put him on the MLB’s radar.

“He’s the guy you never count out,” Texas State head coach Steven Trout said. “He’s the guy that’s always been questioned because of his size or whatever it might be. And the guy, his entire life, has always proved people wrong.”

Shuffield described the weeks between the end of the season and the draft as a blur. The San Antonio Johnson graduate continued heading to the batting cages and working out to stay in shape. Big league scouts and coaches started reaching out to him, letting him know they might be interested in drafting him.

About two weeks ago, a New York Mets scout referred Shuffield to Oran Wolf, suggesting Shuffield bring Wolf on as an adviser through the draft process. Together, Shuffield estimates he and Wolf fielded calls from half of the MLB’s 30 teams.

“We were talking last week and (Wolf) was like, ‘Yeah, I think you’ll probably get drafted within the first 10 rounds,’” Shuffield said. “I was like, ‘Oh, OK. That sounds great.’ Then from there, it started heating up.”

The draft started on Sunday, the first two rounds passing without Shuffield’s name being called. The next day, he remained at his home in San Marcos with his parents and some of his best friends.

Shuffield said one team called him offering to take him in the third round but for less money than he wanted. The team decided to go in another direction, choosing someone else. A while later, Shuffield started hearing from teams that seemed interesting in taking him in the seventh or eighth rounds, but those conversations petered out as well.

Finally, as the 10th round began, Shuffield received a call from the Boston Red Sox who told him they planned on drafting him with their next pick at No. 309. But he received a call from the Twins soon after, saying the same thing.

“(The Twins were) like, ‘Hey, well, our pick is before them. So you’re going to be a Minnesota Twin,’” Shuffield said. “I was like ‘Alright, sounds great to me.’ So it was a pretty hectic last five minutes there before getting drafted.”

Shuffield joins his father in becoming an MLB draftee — Jack Shuffield was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the fourth round of the 1982 draft, spending three years in the minor leagues. Dalton said it was “absolutely fantastic” having those closest to him around to share the moment with him.

He becomes the 75th Bobcat to be drafted and the second to be taken by the Twins, joining Kane Holbrooks who was taken in 2009. He’s also the highest selection by a Texas State fielder since Jeff McVaney was drafted in the eighth round by the Detroit Tigers in 2012.

Dalton said his goal is to make it to the big leagues within the next few years and is ready to do what it takes to get there. Trout thinks he can make it.

“He’s always been the best player on the field every time we show up, so I don’t know why that should change when he gets to pro baseball,” Trout said. “So you know, obviously it takes us a long road of staying healthy and putting some wood in his hand. But I mean, that guy is just out to beat people and finds a way. So I can see in a few years that guy playing on TV.”

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666