Podorsky, Kober get chance at pros

A pair of McNeese State baseball players have an opportunity to move on to the next step of their careers as centerfielder Robbie Podorsky and closing pitcher Collin Kober were selected in the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft on Wednesday. 

The San Diego Padres selected Podorsky in the 25th round, and the Seattle Mariners picked Kober in the 27th round in the final day of the draft. 

“Whether or not they were playing professional baseball (Podorsky and Kober) were great representatives of McNeese baseball and McNeese State University as a whole,” said McNeese baseball coach Justin Hill. They represent our program so well on the field and off the field.

“They did such a great job for us. We’re really proud of them. I think they’re going represent our program and our university in a first-class manner. It’s good for those guys to get that opportunity and it certainly shines a light on McNeese and what we’ve been able to do here.”

Podorsky heads to the Padres organization after an unlikely collegiate career that saw him play for three different teams before finally landing at McNeese where he put together a stellar junior season. 

He said coming into the season he had no aspirations of getting drafted. He was just looking for a chance to play. 

“I was just trying to get playing time,” Podorsky said. “That was about it.

“I’ve been down at the bottom for so long being told I wasn’t good enough, but given the opportunity, I’m really thankful for Delgado Community College and McNeese for giving me the opportunity to make my dreams come true.”

He acted as the Cowboys’ leadoff hitter in the lineup where he batted .323 and used his elite speed to steal a program-record 39 bases in 44 attempts. 

Hill said Podorsky has “above-average Major League speed,” which is likely what attracted San Diego to the small yet capable outfielder.

“He’s probably the fastest baseball player in the country,” Hill said. “There may be some guys who could possibly run better times, but his speed plays so well. He’s not just a fast runner, he a good runner from a baseball standpoint.”

Podorsky still has a year of eligibility left at McNeese, so there is still a chance he declines to sign with the Padres and return for a senior season. 

That will ultimately come down to negotiations between him and the organization.

“It’s not definite that I will sign, but I did get an interesting offer,” Podorsky said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Kober, a Sam Houston High School product, spent his senior as the Cowboys’ go-to closing pitcher. 

The right-hander pitched 252⁄3 innings in which he gave up just nine runs on 22 hits. He struck out 29 batters while walking just seven, and he earned nine saves in his 23 appearances. 

“He put up really good numbers for four years here,” Hill said. “He’s going to be a guy that has a chance to move up the ladder just because of what he can do and his ability to pitch out of the bullpen.”

Kober said the moment he heard his name was unlike anything he’d experienced before. 

“It honestly took my breath away,” Kober said. “This was really happening. It really was like a dream coming true.”

Kober thanked McNeese and its coaching staff for giving him the opportunity to play at the collegiate level. 

“These last four years have been more than I could ask for,” he said. “I was blessed to be able to play here.” 

Podorsky and Kober became the 50th and 51st players in McNeese baseball history to be selected in the MLB draft. Last year starting pitcher Kaleb Fontenot was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 21st round. 

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Robbie Podorsky is congratulated after scoring the Cowboys first run. (Rick Hickman/American Press)

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McNeese State’s closer Collin Kober (25) pitches during the Cowboy’s Southland Conference matchup against the Cajuns, Tuesday night at Cowboy Diamond. (Rick Hickman/American Press)

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