DENVER — A Western New York native's name was called on the first night of the Major League Baseball Draft on Sunday night.
Williamsville East High School catcher Joe Mack was selected No. 31 overall, a competitive balance pick, by the Miami Marlins. There are 36 picks in the first round.
"This is a dream come true. I don't really have that many words, I'm just extremely thankful and extremely blessed," Mack told El ExtraBases after Sunday night's first round. "I'm ready to start playing some baseball."
Mack was ranked as the No. 19 prospect in the 2021 Draft, according to MLB.com, going into the draft.
Joe is only the fourth MLB first-rounder from Western New York, but he wasn't the first Mack from the area to be drafted. His brother, Charles, was selected in the sixth round by the Minnesota Twins in 2018.
"The Mack family is doing something right. They went through the process with Charlie and learned how to work day in and day out," said Chris Gruarin, who just finished his first year - Joe's senior season - as Williamsville East's head baseball coach.
"For northeast baseball, they made such an impact. They're showing the young baseball community it's possible... getting creative inside, getting creative indoors and taking advantage of the simplest opportunities."
After just one season coaching the younger Mack, Gruarin made sure not to take for granted getting to witness his incredible talent at every practice and game.
"Soak it all in because everyday... we had another opportunity to watch Joe Mack play baseball, and we had another opportunity to watch a first round draft pick," Gruarin said.
The 18-year-old left-handed hitter and right-handed catcher will have to decide whether or not to sign with the Marlins and start his pro career. He is currently committed to play baseball at Clemson University next season.
"I think it's going to be a family decision. I know he's going to sit down with his parents and his family and get some advice from the people who he trusts and respects the most," Gruarin said.
"He's got two unbelievable opportunities in front of him that he's earned. You can't really go wrong going to Clemson or going to the minor leagues... so it's going to take some thought... they'll make the right decision."