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Draft prompts duo to ponder options

Nick Kingham and Drew Robinson couldn’t help but feel euphoric Tuesday.

Soon, the emotions of being chosen early in the Major League Baseball draft will give way to contract negotiations and difficult decisions. But both players are glad to have plenty of options.

Kingham, a right-hander from Sierra Vista, was the first local high school senior to be selected Tuesday when the Pittsburgh Pirates plucked him in the fourth round with the 117th overall pick.

“It’s exciting; I didn’t know if it was going to happen,” Kingham said. “It did, and it’s very overwhelming.”

Kingham now must choose between signing a professional deal by the Aug. 16 deadline or fulfilling his college commitment to Oregon. The 6-foot-4-inch power pitcher said money likely will be a key factor in his decision.

“It’s too early to tell,” he said. “If we meet in the middle and agree on terms, the Pirates will be the way I go.”

Kingham, who was 6-3 with a 2.01 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings on his way to first-team all-state honors as a senior, has a meeting scheduled Wednesday with a Pirates area scout and team executive.

Still, Oregon is an attractive option.

“There’s no bad way I can come out of this,” Kingham said. “I’m in a really good situation; there’s no losing in this.”

Later in the fourth round, Robinson, a shortstop from Silverado, went at No. 136 to the Texas Rangers.

“It was unreal,” said Robinson, who listened to the draft on the Internet. “I was told I was going to go pretty high, but I wasn’t counting on anything. Once I heard my name, a rush went through me.”

Robinson has three options on the table, having signed with both Nebraska and the College of Southern Nevada. He could sign a pro contract, play Division I baseball or head to CSN and be draft-eligible again next year.

“It’s (a position) a lot of kids aspire to be in, and I feel really honored and grateful to be in this situation,” Robinson said.

Robinson was a second-team all-state infielder after batting .500 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs as a senior.

Entering the draft, the highest-profile local high school senior was Bonanza infielder Kris Bryant, who played shortstop for the Bengals but projects as a third baseman at the next level.

Bryant, who has signed with the University of San Diego, was ranked the No. 29 overall prospect by ESPN.com, No. 33 by Rivals.com and No. 53 by Baseball America.

He wound up sliding to the 18th round to the Toronto Blue Jays, who chose him at No. 546 overall.

Bryant wasn’t surprised by where he was taken because teams were aware how strong his college commitment is. He carried a weighted 4.78 grade-point average as a senior.

“I think I would have (gone higher), but it’s the whole ‘signability’ thing,” Bryant said. “The commitment to USD is strong. I think that scared away some teams.”

The 6-5 Bryant hit 22 home runs as a senior, the third most in state history. He batted .469 and drove in 51 runs on his way to Nevada Player of the Year honors from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Gatorade.

“Going into the draft I knew I was in a win-win situation,” Bryant said. “I pretty much knew I was going to get drafted somewhere, but I didn’t care where I went. No stress for me.”

Spring Valley right-hander Aaron Blair, a Marshall signee, went in the 21st round to the Houston Astros.

Centennial right-hander Michael Wagner, a USD signee, was a 28th-round pick by the Boston Red Sox.

Kentucky outfielder Lance Ray, a former Sierra Vista and Western Nevada College star, went No. 255 overall in the eighth round to the Minnesota Twins.

San Diego shortstop Zach Walters, a former Cimarron-Memorial standout, was chosen No. 271 overall in the ninth round by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Yavapai College (Ariz.) right-hander Dustin Hobbs, an Arbor View product, was picked No. 655 overall in the 21st round by the New York Yankees.

Western Nevada right-hander Dyllon Nuernberg, from Cimarron, was selected No. 709 overall in the 23rd round by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Cal State Fullerton southpaw Kevin Rath, a former Silverado star, went in the 26th round to the Chicago White Sox at No. 788 overall.

Cal State Northridge second baseman Ryan Pineda, from Bonanza, was a 28th-round pick at No. 845 overall to the Oakland Athletics.

The draft concludes Wednesday, with rounds 31 through 50.

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