Mariners draft Carlson; decision time coming

Burnsville ace will close high school career this week

Burnsville High School pitcher Sam Carlson must decide between starting his professional career in the Seattle Mariners organization or joining the baseball team at the University of Florida. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy

As Sam Carlson’s high school baseball career winds down, his future is a little more clearly defined.

Carlson, who will help lead Burnsville into the state Class 4A tournament this week, was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the second round of the Major League Baseball Draft on Monday night. He’s a pitcher, first baseman and outfielder for Burnsville but is projected as a pitcher in the pros.

Seattle took Carlson with the 55th pick overall. Some draft projections had Carlson being taken in the first round, and if that happened he would have been the first Minnesota high school player selected in the first round since Joe Mauer in 2001, and the first Minnesota high school pitcher ever picked that early.

That didn’t seem to matter to Carlson, who had a chance to visit with the Mariners on Tuesday and Target Field, where they were playing the Twins. “This feeling is unbelievable. Can’t wait to be a part of the @Mariners,” Carlson tweeted at @samcarlson33.

After Burnsville finishes its run at the state tournament (the Blaze plays Lakeville North in the Class 4A quarterfinals at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at CHS Field), Carlson has to decide whether he will sign with Seattle or go to the University of Florida, where he accepted a baseball scholarship. The “slot value” for a player drafted in the middle of the second round is $1.2 million.

Asked it about Monday, hours before the draft took place, Carlson wasn’t tipping his hand, saying he would discuss it with the team and his advisors. “I’ll let them take care of that,” he said.

If Carlson goes to college, Seattle would lose the rights to negotiate with him and he would be eligible for the MLB Draft again after his junior year.

Carlson, whose fastball has reached the mid-90s, has drawn the attention of radar gun-toting scouts for years. He said he didn’t mind the attention and understands what it means for Burnsville baseball.

“A lot of times with the state of Minnesota, you think of hockey,” he said. “But there’s good baseball here, too. I’m trying to make my friends, my family and the city proud, and enjoy the moment.”

This year Carlson is 5-1 with one save, with a 0.67 earned-run average. He struck out 76 batters in 52 innings. He has won the Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year award and is a finalist for the Mr. Baseball award. The Mr. Baseball winner will be announced at a luncheon June 25 at Target Field.

“Sam represents our program, our community, the school and the district really well,” Burnsville coach Mick Scholl said. “We know he has the talent, but he’s also a first-class person. Sometimes people see Sam Carlson the baseball player and they forget what a great kid he really is.”

Lehnen picked in 6th round

Dalton Lehnen, a left-handed pitcher from Augustana University and Lakeville native, was picked in the sixth round of the MLB Draft on Tuesday.

Lehnen, a 2014 Lakeville North High School graduate, played on two Panthers teams that reached the state tournament. He played two seasons at the University of Cincinnati before transferring to Augustana in 2017.

He was 3-3 with a 2.60 ERA in 11 appearances for Augustana in 2017. Lehnen struck out 61 batters in 52 innings.

Lehnen is the highest draft pick in Augustana history and the ninth player overall selected from the program.