Padres draft Becker in 9th round

NEW PADRE — Kentucky second baseman Luke Becker prepares to hit during regular-season NCAA Division I baseball action this spring. The former Fairmont High School and North Iowa Community College standout was selected by the San Diego Padres in the ninth round of the MLB Draft on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of the University of Kentucky)

NORTHROP — The waiting game is finally over for Northrop native and former Fairmont High School standout Luke Becker.

The San Diego Padres selected the Kentucky Wildcats senior second baseman with the 261st overall pick in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday.

“It’s been a long time coming. Some guys get drafted out of high school, some out of junior college and some after their junior year at the Division I level,” Becker reflected. “I was down to my final opportunity to be selected, and there was a lot of emotional build-up while waiting.”

As the minutes and hours clicked away while watching each major league team’s choice from the third to ninth round on Tuesday, it happened — the phone call.

“Lincoln and I turned on the draft at noon today and I got the call at 5 p.m.,” Luke said in reference to his 13-year-old cousin, who’s both an aspiring and inspiring athlete. “I watched as my name came up on the screen, but I didn’t really believe it until the Padres contacted me.

“My whole body just went numb. It was an emotionally-draining long day, but obviously worth the experience.”

Once the news of Becker’s selection hit social media like one of his line-drives, the pride of southern Minnesota diligently fielded congratulatory phone calls and texts for the rest of the night.

“I want to say thanks to all of my family, friends and the whole community of Fairmont for always being in my corner throughout my entire career,” said Luke. “I wouldn’t be a ninth-round pick without the support of all of those people.”

So, what’s the next step in Becker’s inspiring journey from growing up in an agricultural area in the upper Midwest to attaining the professional baseball ranks?

“The Padres will fly me out to Arizona on Sunday morning, but I don’t know the exact destination as of yet. They’ll let me know later (Tuesday night),” Becker said. “We’ll go to a spring training complex there and work out for about a week, take BP (batting practice), take ground balls, throw, etc.

“After that, they’ll send us to whatever level they choose in their system, and I’ll see what happens after that.”

The agricultural economics major closed out his senior campaign at Kentucky with a .286 batting average — including 12 doubles, two triples and seven HRs — to produce 38 RBIs and 37 runs scored. He also reached base at a .410 clip and posted a .466 slugging percentage.

The first-team all-National Junior College Athletic Association Region XI baseball selection helped guide North Iowa Community College to the 2015 regional and super regional championships en route to the World Series as a true freshman before transferring for a three-year stint at Division I Kentucky.

It all began for the 2014 Minnesota State High School League Class AA all-state tournament baseball choice when he assembled a record-setting prep career with the Fairmont Cardinals.

The three-time all-section, all-South Central Conference and Sentinel All-Area selection helped lead the Cardinals to a second-place showing at the 2014 Class AA state tournament after playing a key role in Fairmont’s fourth-place state effort in 2012.

The 2014 Minnesota High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Series choice established Fairmont’s single-season records in batting average (.547), hits (52), home runs (10) and triples (10) — to name just a few — during his senior prep campaign.

Luke is the son of Lonny and Lynn Becker of Northrop, and has two brothers, Levi and Lance, and two sisters, Leanna Mahoney and Larissa Becker.