With his .397 batting average, .821 slugging percentage and long list of postseason honors, Brian Wuest thought he was a lock to hear his name called in the major league draft.
Two weeks later, it still baffles the University of Nebraska at Kearney first baseman and outfielder that he didn't.
“When I didn't get taken, it was kind of a shock,” Wuest said. “That was a tough day.”
He took about 12 hours to grieve. Then he woke up the next day and told himself that he couldn't control not getting drafted. But he could control how he responded.
He refocused on a new goal: doing everything he could to get a pro contract, whether it was through free agency or an independent league.
“Baseball has just always been the one thing I wanted to do with my life,” he said. “I'm going to do anything to make myself better. I'll do anything to get better and make it to the next level.”
Wuest, an All-American who finished third in the national player of the year voting, is the honorary captain of The World-Herald's All-Nebraska Division II baseball team. Division II coaches in the state voted for members of the annual team.
Wuest was a first-team ABCA and CoSIDA All-American and honorable mention NCBWA All-American. He started every game for the Lopers (22-23), leading Division II in slugging percentage while hitting 17 doubles and 15 home runs. He had a .979 fielding percentage.
His numbers were good enough that he consistently heard from scouts from the Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays.
There was no question that Wuest should have been drafted, UNK coach Damon Day said. But he added the 6-foot-2, 215-pound standout from Prosper, Texas, has joined a list of other Loper greats who didn't get that chance.
“I thought Brian was one of the top professional prospects we ever had here,” Day said. “I felt like he was the best hitter in the MIAA, but obviously a professional team did not see it that way.”
Day said he can't explain why Wuest wasn't drafted. He showed great power, discipline at the plate and drove in runs.
“Not only did he drive in runs, but he also got on base in tremendous amounts,” Day said.
Day said he and his staff have been trying to make contact with independent baseball leagues and other avenues to get Wuest a chance.
Weust has been talking with an adviser, Alex Hicks, whom he said has some good pro contacts, and he immediately began playing with the Joplin (Mo.) Outlaws of the MINK League to keep in baseball shape.
He did get a tryout with the Rangers in Surprise, Ariz., but they picked one of the other three players for the one spot they had open on their Spokane team.
“I thought I did really well,” Wuest said. “I thought I did well enough to win myself a job.”
Wuest said he's been able to keep a good attitude thanks to lessons he's learned from Day and assistant Tre Howell as well as the coaches at Nebraska, where he went for one year before transferring to UNK.
In the meantime, he's doing everything he can to help his new team win. And he's waiting for a call.
“I think I've proven I'm a good hitter over the past two years,” Wuest said. “I have the drive to get better and play professional baseball. I think I'm pretty good, too.”