ORONO, Maine — Mike Fransoso couldn’t take it any more. With the draft dragging on and his baseball future uncertain, he headed off to the golf course to clear his mind on Saturday afternoon.
Shortly thereafter, he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
The former University of Maine shortstop was one of two Black Bears chosen in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Fransoso was selected in the 27th round, the 809th pick overall, by the Pirates and UMaine’s Mike Connolly went shortly thereafter in the same round (No. 822) to the San Francisco Giants.
“It was really long and stressful,” Fransoso, from Portsmouth, N.H., said Sunday. “The 15th round hit, I was sitting in my house and I said, ‘I’ve got to get out of here. I’ve got to go do something.’”
He headed with his cousin to the local golf course where, before he could tee off, his girlfriend texted him the news that he had been drafted.
“A few minutes later, I got a call from the scout,” said Fransoso, who had dreamt of such a moment his whole life.
He recalled that in kindergarten, students were asked to draw a picture of what they wanted to be when they grew up. His was a stick figure of a baseball player.
“I’m thankful that I was actually given the opportunity. Now I’ve just got to go and make the best of it.”
Fransoso, who shot a 39 over nine holes Saturday, won’t waste any time getting his professional career started. He will fly to Pittsburgh this week where he will see a Pirates game at PNC Park, get a tour and have a physical.
He’ll then report to the Jamestown (N.Y.) Jammers of the New York-Penn League, a Pirates short-season Class A affiliate.
“Pittsburgh was the team that I thought I was going to go to,” said Fransoso, who also had gotten a call from the Minnesota Twins prior to the 11th round on Saturday.
UMaine junior pitcher Tommy Lawrence, the America East Pitcher of the Year, was expected to be selected but was not drafted.
“It’s crazy. I can’t believe it,” Trimper said. “It’s frustrating. Tommy’s a little bit upset but he’s a lot more motivated.”
The 6-foot, 175-pound Fransoso was a four-year starter at UMaine under coach Steve Trimper. As a senior this spring, he was named the America East Player of the Year and was chosen for the Louisville Slugger All-America Division I Third Team by Collegiate Baseball newspaper.
Fransoso was UMaine’s first All-American baseball player since Chad White of Brewer earned a second-team nod in 1993. They are among only 11 Black Bears accorded the honor.
Fransoso had a stellar senior season during which he batted .352 with four home runs and 49 runs batted in. He led the Bears in hits (74) and runs scored (45) and ranked second with 20 stolen bases in 24 attempts.
Connolly, a 6-foot, 190-pound right-handed pitcher from Bridgewater, Mass., was a two-pronged threat for UMaine. He was an all-league first-team pick behind the plate and a second-team choice on the mound.
Connolly compiled a 6-4 record with a 2.11 earned run average, giving up 60 hits in 76 2/3 innings. He struck out 46, walked 26 and held opponents to a .221 average.
As a catcher, he hit .310 with one home run and 14 runs batted in and threw out 27 of 52 opponents trying to steal.
“In the last three years, we’ve had the most wins of any New England program and we’ve had the most kids drafted (8),” said UMaine coach Steve Trimper.
Trimper planned to meet with Connolly on Sunday to talk about the potential for him to return to UMaine for his senior season.