Hurlbutt drafted by Oakland A?s

Dustin Hurlbutt became the third baseball player in Tabor College history to be drafted when he was selected in the 16th round by the Oakland Athletics in the First-Year Player Draft last week. Free Press File Photo

Sometimes extraordinary things happen during the ordinary routine of every-day life.

Tabor College pitcher Dustin Hurlbutt was getting his vehicle?s oil changed Wednesday when he learned he had been drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 16th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

?I was actually watching it on Twitter,? Hurlbutt said. ?When I saw my name pop up, I was in shock for a second. I was with my mom, and I showed her. She was excited for me, and I was excited. It was an unbelievable feeling.?

Tabor?s right-handed ace, Hurlbutt was the 488th overall pick on Day 3 of the draft, making him the highest draft selection in school history.

Two other Bluejays have been drafted: pitcher Jacob Webb was selected in the 18th round by the Atlanta Braves last year, and catcher Tyson Kendrick was drafted in the 49th round by the Detroit Tigers in 2010.

Hurlbutt said he has until July 17 to sign a contract, adding that it is his intention to sign.

Beginnings

Hurlbutt played little league baseball as a child, and baseball soon stood out as his favorite.

?I always loved baseball,? he said. ?I played all sports, but I knew baseball was my favorite sport when I was younger.?

He continued playing throughout high school. In addition to pitching, he saw time at shortstop and second base.

Upon graduating from Field Kindley High School in 2011, Hurlbutt walked on at the local community college in his hometown of Coffeyville, Kan., to continue playing ball.

At Coffeyville, he focused solely on pitching. He admits he missed the hitting aspect of the game.

?I was a hitter, too,? he said. ?That?s something I miss, that I wish I could?ve done, was hit, but I was always a better pitcher than a hitter I guess.?

He pitched at Coffeyville for two years before transferring to NCAA Division II Northeastern State University.

But before he ever saw time on the mound, Hurlbutt underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2013 and was sidelined for 14 months.

When the school year was over, Hurlbutt said it was time to make a change.

?I didn?t think that was the right school for me,? he said. ?I knew (Tabor coach) Mark (Standiford) liked me from the year before, and so I ended up talking to him. He gave me a scholarship to play for him, and so I went to Tabor.?

Year at Tabor

Coming off surgery was difficult at first.

?At the beginning of the season, I was still a little nervous about throwing,? he said. ?Whenever I got out there at Tabor, everybody had confidence in me.

?I started off the season really well, and my arm started to feel great and so I went from there. Everything worked.?

Hurlbutt recorded 10 wins and three losses during his 2014-15 campaign as a Bluejay, posting an earned-run average of 3.16 over 881?3 innings of work. Opponents batted .225 against him. He gave up 38 runs (31 earned) and struck out 106 batters.

He ranks among the top 50 nationally in four categories: 10th in batters struck out, 15th in wins, 16th in batters struck out per nine innings (10.8) to lead the KCAC, and 47th in hits allowed per nine (7.13).

He threw one complete-game shutout.

This year, Hurlbutt received NAIA All-Ameri?can honorable mention. In addition, he was a first-team All-KCAC selection and named KCAC Co-Pitcher of the Year.

?I just stay focused on each batter, each pitch,? Hurlbutt said. ?I don?t get too far ahead of myself. I don?t really think about the outcome, I just think about each pitch and what I need to do to get the batter out.?

Hurlbutt and the Bluejays earned their fourth-consecutive regular-season Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference title with a 22-6 record. Tabor won its second-consecutive conference tournament championship to advance to the NAIA Opening Round tournament.

Tabor then won the Bellevue (Neb.) bracket to punch its ticket to the Avista-NAIA World Series for the second time in as many years. This year, the Bluejays went 1-2 at the World Series, ending the season with an overall record of 54-12.

Hurlbutt contributed to Tabor records for single season wins (54) and strikeouts (474). The Bluejays rank seventh in the NAIA Coaches? postseason Top 25 poll.

?This was one of the best teams, if not the best team, I?ve played for, talent-wise,? he said. ?Mark Standiford was a great coach. He put guys in the right positions and made it work.

?We really came together as a team, not just on the field, but off the field as well. Everybody got along with everybody, and that made winning games a lot easier and a lot more fun.?

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