BRIDGEWATER, Mass. — Things came full circle for Mike Connolly during the 2013 Major League draft.
After a stellar junior season at the University of Maine, the pitcher from Bridgewater, Mass., was drafted by the San Francisco Giants on Saturday in the 27th round (No. 822 overall).
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had,” Connolly said. “Every kid dreams about playing baseball, the game you love, and getting paid for it.”
Connolly’s selection made him the second person in his household to be drafted. His father Mike was a 30th-round pick of the Cleveland Indians (748th overall) in 1982.
“It was really cool because my dad had sort of been living college baseball through me,” the younger Connolly said. “Now I can kind of say, hey, I’m in your shoes and I’ve been where you’ve been.”
Connolly has not decided whether to turn pro or return to UMaine for his senior year.
Both Connollys were drafted through the efforts of the same scout, Glenn Tufts. He also grew up in Middleboro, Mass., and was a first-round draft pick of the Indians in 1973.
“He’s been Mr. Baseball around here, so I’ve always gone to his camps growing up,” Connolly said. “It’s neat that he helped get my dad signed in 1982 out of high school.”
Connolly was selected as a pitcher by the Giants after contributing as the starting catcher and as a mound regular for coach Steve Trimper’s 37-22 Black Bears.
The 6-foot, 190-pound right-hander posted 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.
He became the first player in America East history to earn all-conference honors at two positions. He was named the first-team catcher and a second-team starting pitcher.
Connolly batted .310 with one home run and 14 runs batted in and threw out 27 of 52 (52 percent) players attempting to steal.
He said even though he also received attention from scouts as a catcher, his baseball future is clear.
“This is a sign from God that I need to be a full-time pitcher,” said Connolly, who is a finalist for the John Olerud Award, which recognizes the nation’s top two-way player.
Connolly is waiting to find out what kind of signing bonus San Francisco will offer before deciding whether to sign a pro contract.
In 2012, Major League Baseball changed signing guidelines, limiting bonuses to $100,000 or less for players drafted after the 10th round.
“If the money is right, I am, for sure, going to sign as soon as I can,” said Connolly, who was given a figure, which he would not divulge, by the Giants during a phone call in the 20th round on Saturday.
“This quote, unquote signing bonus is kind of what you’ll be living on,” he added, explaining his minor league salary would be $1,110 per month.
He is painfully aware of the realities that face drafted players who sign for less money.
Former UMaine teammates Keith Bilodeau, Taylor Lewis, Steve Perakslis and Jeff Gibbs all signed during the last two years. Bilodeau is now playing independent ball, while Gibbs has changed organizations.
Lewis is in his third season in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, where he has a .216 career batting average. He signed for $100,000.
Bilodeau, who reportedly signed for much less, was released by the Giants after going 3-2 with a 4.54 ERA in 49 games over two seasons.
“The more money they put into you, the more opportunity you’re going to get,” Connolly said. “We play baseball because we love the game. Now, it turns into a job. It’s a business.”