At the start of the second day of the Major League Baseball draft, Demetrio Crisantes had a good idea that his name was going to be called soon.
With the first three rounds of the 20-round draft completed on Sunday, Crisantes said he started getting calls from MLB teams early in Monday’s proceedings.
“I was here at my house with my family, and I was getting calls from a couple of different teams,” said the 17-year-old Crisantes, a recent graduate of Nogales High School and Arizona’s reigning 5A Conference Player of the Year. Those teams included the Toronto Blue Jays, the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins.
However, the teams’ offers didn’t appeal to Crisantes and so they didn’t select him. Then the Arizona Diamondbacks stepped up.
“The D-backs came and said, ‘We’re going to select you and we’re just going to talk to you after and see what happens from there,’” he said.
That verbal commitment came during the fifth round, but Crisantes still had to wait a little longer to be formally drafted. Then, just prior to the team’s pick in the seventh round, the D-backs called to say it was happening.
Crisantes said he hung up the phone, went to the TV and saw that he had been selected by Arizona with the second pick in the seventh round. He was the 198th pick overall.
“It’s a dream come true, because since I was little, one of my dreams has always been to be a professional ballplayer and make it to the big leagues. And this is just one step closer to starting my career,” he said.
“To be my hometown team as well, it’s just an incredible opportunity for me.”
Still, it’s not a done deal that Crisantes will join the D-backs. He had previously committed to attend the University of Arizona on a baseball scholarship. So if he can’t reach a pro deal, he’ll go to college and be eligible for the draft again after his junior year.
“I have that decision to say yes or no,” he said. “If I like the offer, then I’m going to take it. If not, I’ll go to the U of A, and in three years get drafted again.”
As Nogales’ shortstop and leadoff hitter in 2022, Crisantes batted .485 with a .618 on-base percentage. His 48 runs scored were the most in the 5A Conference, which includes 45 teams. He was fourth in home runs with seven and fifth in slugging percentage at .929.
That performance, which helped propel Nogales to the state championship game, earned him the Conference Player of the Year award.
As a junior, Crisantes was named the Player of the Year in the 5A Conference Southern Region after batting .507 with 10 doubles and 27 runs.
Scouts for MLB teams began tracking him during the summer after his junior year, Crisantes said, calling and texting him, and asking if he’d like to do a workout for the team.
The scouts also followed him during his senior year at NHS. During a game late in the 2022 regular season, at least 10 MLB scouts were on hand at War Memorial Stadium to see Nogales take on Cienega – a team whose center fielder, Isaiah Jackson, was taken by the Houston Astros in the 18th round of this week’s draft.
“You start building relationships with those scouts and if one of those scouts really likes you, then they’ll most likely take you,” Crisantes said.
While many Nogales High School baseball players earn college scholarships, and several have gone on to sign professional contracts after college, it’s rare for a player to be drafted by an MLB team right out of NHS.
In 2006, the Kansas City Royals took NHS graduate Rafael Valenzuela in the 25th round. Valenzuela opted to go to college instead and signed with the Houston Astros after graduating from the U of A.
The San Diego Padres selected Nogalian Omar Alan Garcia in the 19th round of the 2015 draft, soon after his high school graduation. However, Garcia left NHS after his junior year and transferred to Mountain Pointe High in Phoenix for his senior season.
Crisantes said he’s received an outpouring of support in the wake of his selection on Monday.
“Everyone’s super proud of me. My teammates, my family especially, the whole town of Nogales,” he said. “Nogales is such a small town. A lot of people don’t know what Nogales kids are made of, and having this, people have told me, ‘You just put Nogales on the map, you just helped Nogales with younger kids.’ And I just want to prove to the world and to the kids here in Nogales that it is possible, that you can get drafted out of Nogales, you don’t need to move to Phoenix, or be in Tucson or be in California.”
“If you’re good, people are going to come see you,” he said. “And I just wanted to prove that to the world and to the kids here in Nogales, and be a role model for them as well.”
As of Wednesday morning, Crisantes said, he hadn’t begun contract talks with the D-backs, though he’d been in contact with the team’s area scout and medical staff since he was drafted.
He’s already been working with an advisor, who will continue to help him and his family once the discussions begin.
According to the MLB.com draft tracker, the 198th draft pick has an approximate slot value of $247,000, which refers to the signing bonus that a player drafted in that position can expect to receive. Still, teams have the option of paying bonuses above or below that amount.
Meanwhile, Crisantes said, the U of A baseball program has been very supportive, saying he’ll be welcome to train at their facility even if he opts to go pro.
“They’re really excited for me and they’re hoping for the best for me,” he said. “They’re going to support my decision and help me throughout the process.”
The deadline for Crisantes to sign a pro contract is Aug. 1. If that happens, he said, the D-backs will have him start by reporting to the team’s Spring Training complex in Scottsdale. “But other than that,” he said, “we haven’t talked about any position or playing or any of that.”
“If I sign, we’ll start talking about that,” he said. “If not, I’ll go to the U of A.”