Of the 30 Major League Baseball teams that could have potentially drafted Dan Altavilla, the Seattle Mariners were always in the back of his mind.
The franchise was one of the first that spoke with the pitcher early in his senior season at Mercyhurst. One of the team's regional scouts came to his house one day to talk to the Elizabeth Forward graduate and his family. Before the third round of the draft even began, Seattle called him with an offer.
After talking with his father, he decided to wait and see what other offers he might get. But in the fifth round, the Mariners were there for him -- this time with an opportunity that would change his life.
While local high school standouts Brendan McKay of Blackhawk and J.J. Matijevic of Norwin went undrafted through the 10th round of the 2014 MLB Draft, Altavilla was selected by Seattle in the fifth round with the 141st overall selection Friday.
"I was really proud of that organization for just sticking with me and being loyal to me, even after I passed them up in the third round," Altavilla said. "I was so excited when I heard my name being called. It's such a proud day for not only myself, but my friends, my family and Mercyhurst baseball."
Altavilla was the Post-Gazette Player of the Year three years ago, but was not drafted. He went to Mercyhurst and was tremendous this season, recently being named the ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Division II National Pitcher of the Year. He was also a first-team All-American.
Altavilla -- a 5-foot-11, 200-pound right-hander -- was 9-1 and led NCAA Division II with five shutouts. He had a 1.23 ERA in 12 starts and struck out 129 in 801/3 innings, including a 19-strikeout performance in 72/3 innings May 1 against West Chester.
For McKay and Matijevic, going undrafted isn't an indictment of their ability. With both players on track to play in college, teams might have been skeptical of their chances to sign either of them as the rounds wore on, something both of them said likely played a role.
Given how things played out, McKay (Louisville) and Matijevic (Arizona) said it's extremely likely they'll honor their college commitments.
"There is disappointment," McKay said. "You say to yourself that you're going to get drafted in a certain round, but you can't take it as disappointment."
McKay heard from numerous scouts that he could be anything from a fourth- to eighth-round pick. He had a 30-2 record in his high school career and had 130 strikeouts this season, along with a scoreless streak of 721/3 innings that tied him for the second longest in national high school history.
In the run-up to the draft, Matijevic said he had been told that he could go as high as a fifth- or sixth-round pick. This season, he batted .607 with 37 RBIs and 10 home runs, a total that included six consecutive games with a home run.
"There were a lot of surprises early on [in the draft]," Matijevic said. "That happened and things didn't work out. There's still a chance tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes."
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG. Mike White: email@example.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.