KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Any kid who picks up glove and a ball has a dream of making it to the majors. Zach Linginfelter was fourteen years old, pitching with Elite Baseball out of Atlanta, Georgia, when he and his family realized that could become a reality.
“I start throwing and I’m like well I’m kind of standing out, I’m one of the better guys here,” Linginfelter said. “I feel like that’s when I started to realize I had the chance to play at the next level and gained confidence from that.”
Zach, who sent to Sevier County High School, settled on the school less than 30 miles west of hometown, the University of Tennessee. Before he played an inning in orange and white, Ligninfelter heard his name called during the MLB Draft in 2016. The Yankees selected the 18-year-old in the 16th round of the 2016 draft. The decision to stay at Tennessee as Zach’s father Tony said was simple.
Drafted twice, but passed to play at Tennessee
“The first time he wasn’t for sure where he was gonna go draft wise,” Tony Linginfelter explained. “He was going to college unless there was a large sum of money.”
132 strikeouts and 111.1 innings pitched later Linginfelter heard his name again. This time by the Nationals in the 19th round of 2018’s MLB Draft. Again, Linginfelter opted for college.
“I had a pretty good idea I was coming back to UT,” Linginfelter said. “The Nationals negotiated with me a little bit but it was more ‘I’m ready to go back to school and get to work.’ Try to lay down the bricks for this program as Vitello says.”
Waiting to hear his name called on draft day, practically a family tradition for the Linginfelters as they wait to see what major league ball club saw something in their only child. But 2019 didn’t have the same feel as the previous two draft days.
“Most people go after their junior year in college that’s the best time to go,” said Tony Linginfelter. “He was wanting to go. And we were kind of nervous, waiting so long before he got his name called.”
“I was sitting there at the house watching it and I had to get out of the house and go over to my high school and start working out,” Linginfelter said. “I had to start moving around and try to get it off my head a little.”
A text from the Angels in the 2019 MLB Draft
Midway through the 9th round he could move with a little more ease, the Angels contacted the Sevier Co. alum.
“Their area scout texted me and let me know what was going on. I talked to him for a second and then told my family,” said Linginfelter. “My mom was at work at the time so it was just me, my dad and my girlfriend. We were all pretty pumped up about it.”
For Linginfelter and his parents now comes a long journey. A trip to Arizona to sign his professional contract, then entering the grind of minor league baseball.
“It’s a long way from being in LA yanno minor league ball is it takes a while to move up, yanno years, and they have one rookie team in Arizona another in Iowa,” Tony Linginfelter said. “We’re excited for him it’s something he’s always wanted to do, and we’re excited he’s getting the opportunity.”
Playing baseball in the moment
Zach could be a few years away from minor league baseball. Right now his focus is the now.
“I think it’s just a great opportunity I need to take it one step at a time and not really think about the big picture,” Linginfelter said. “Just play baseball where I’m at in the moment.”