PROFESSIONAL

Former Mohave Valley Little League and River Valley High School standout Josh Advocate, who was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 20th round Wednesday, releases a pitch for the Long Beach State Dirtbags during the 2017 season.

BULLHEAD CITY — As much as things change they stay the same.

During the biggest days of former River Valley High School Dust Devils standout Josh Advocate’s life, he did what he often does.

But then a couple hours after pulling bass out of the Colorado River, the Texas Rangers selected Advocate in the 20th round, 614th overall pick, of the Major League Baseball draft Wednesday.

“It’s pretty exciting stuff,” Advocate said. “It’s crazy.”

He added: “With the season I had and the competition — and that kind of stuff — and talking with people who know the game and know how this all works, I felt really confident that at some point my name would be called whether it’s early or late.”

Advocate remained relaxed as the draft entered its third day Wednesday morning.

“That didn’t really matter, so I was just kind of waiting to see when and where,” Advocate said. “When they finally did call my name, we kind of just looked at each other as if: ‘Did they really just call my name?’

“Yeah, it’s unreal.”

The competition Advocate was referring to was attained while playing for the Long Beach State Dirtbags in the Big West Conference during the last two seasons.

Playing for the Dirtbags offered Advocate a place on center stage, as ESPN televised a handful of Long Beach State’s postseason games during the two weeks leading up to the MLB draft.

Advocate gave up no runs on no hits, while striking out two and walking none in the eighth and ninth innings in Long Beach State’s 2-1 loss to the Cal-State Fullerton Titans in the third and deciding game of the super regional on Sunday. The loss left the Dirtbags one win short of advancing into the NCAA College World Series.

The former Cochise Junior College right-handed pitcher also hurled one-third of an inning during the Dirtbags’ 3-0 victory in the first game of the series against the Titans.

Advocate also played a role in helping the Dirtbags oust the Texas Longhorns in the Long Beach Regional on June 6-8.

The 6-foot, 190-pound hurler gave up no runs, no hits, struck out two and walked none in 12/3 innings, which helped the Dirtbags maintain their one-run lead in the seventh and eighth innings during Long Beach State’s 2-1 decisive third-game win. That victory catapulted the Dirtbags into the super regional.

Advocate served up an eight-inning, game-tying home run during the Dirtbags’ 12-inning, 5-3 loss to the Longhorns during the first game of the series. He gave up one run, two hits, struck out one and walked one in two-thirds of an inning during the first game against Texas.

Then Advocate redeemed himself by pitching one inning of hitless ball to record the save in the Dirtbags’ 4-3 victory in the third and decisive game of the series. Advocate struck out one and walked one Longhorn during the outing.

The former Arizona Christian Firestorm pitcher gave up one run on two hits, while striking out five and walking one in 42/3 innings of postseason play for the Dirtbags.

Advocate said the Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, Washington Nationals, Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels showed the most interest in him 

during his postseason march.

“I got calls from Texas, Washington and the Padres either today or yesterday,” he added.

Wayne Advocate, Josh’s dad, said the San Diego Padres contacted his son moments before he was drafted.

“It’s funny,” Wayne Advocate said. “The San Diego Padres just call him  and asked, ‘Do you want to play ball? We know you’ve got your degree. Do you want to play baseball or are you going to work?’

“Josh Advocate’s response was, ‘I want to play ball,’ Wayne Advocate said. ‘OK, we’re probably going to pick you up next round; be ready.’ ” was the Padres’ reply.

Wayne Advocate added: “Three picks later it was Texas.”

Advocate said he saw his name come across the screen on the television tracker.

“We just kind of waited and the area scout that I’ve been in contact with said congratulations for having a great season and being drafted by the Rangers organization,” Advocate said. “(He) asked where I was. If I still was in Long Beach or back home as far as signing the official documents.

“We just talked about the whole process as far as Arizona, the short season, but that stuff we’ll find out early tomorrow, but it was just mainly a congratulatory phone call to let me know I was part of the organization.”

Advocate said he was contacted by the Rangers Wednesday evening, and he said that Sunday he is expected to report to Surprise, Ariz., which is where Texas’ spring training camp is located.

“I will sign when I get to the mini-camp on Sunday,” he added. “I will fly sometime next week to Spokane, (Wash).” 

He will be playing short-season ball in the Class-A Short Season Northwest League, Advocate said. The Rangers affiliate is the Indians.

Advocate said there are so many people to thank for helping him become a success.

He said his mom, Michelle Advocate; his dad, Wayne Advocate; his brother Derrik; his grandparents, the late Carol Advocate and Sid Advocate; and his girlfriend, Jessica Hinkle.

“(Hinkle) attended how many dozen games,” Advocate said. “Just the support of having all of them at your side and knowing no matter what choice you make, no matter what you do. ...”

Advocate said the Mohave Valley Little League coaching staff, River Valley coaches Aaron LaCasse and Mark Ruckle, Arizona Christian, Cochise, Arizona Christian and Long Beach State all helped him achieve his goal of becoming of professional baseball player.

“Without those people, I don’t get to where I am today,” he added.

LaCasse said he had been celebrating the good news he heard about Advocate Wednesday evening.

“Wayne, Josh’s dad, sent me a picture of a Rangers’ card, almost, with Josh being selected and everything, which was very cool,” LaCasse said. “(I told Wayne’s dad), ‘Freaking awesome.’ I was kind of at a loss for words.”

LaCasse was River Valley’s head baseball coach when he and Advocate, who was in his senior season, earned the Arizona Interscholastic Association state baseball title in 2012.

“That’s what you want to see; that’s the goal, to get drafted and give yourself a chance to play professional baseball.

“That’s just awesome; I can’t think of a better word.”

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