Worth The Trip

Elgie is a rare North Dakota prep prospect

MINOT, N.D.—More than 23,000 players have been selected in the baseball draft since the last time a high school position player was taken out of the state of North Dakota.

Zac Elgie hopes to break that streak.

Elgie, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound righthander and first baseman from Minot, is considered the top high school draft prospect from the state since Darin Erstad was selected in the 13th round by the Mets in 1992. Erstad opted to attend Nebraska instead of signing and was selected No. 1 overall three years later by the Angels.

While Elgie earned some national honors as a high school player in 2006 and 2007, it was playing American Legion ball in the summer of 2007 that gave him momentum as a draft prospect. During that season, he hit 34 home runs with 114 RBIs in 222 at-bats, accumulating a hefty 1.594 OPS as a member of the Minot Vistas.

Zac Elgie
One National League scout who has seen Elgie in action multiple times said it's his power potential that makes him a tantalizing prospect. Elgie's main position is first base, but he has also seen time behind the plate and at the corner outfield spots.

"Not many kids anywhere in one season have hit over 30 home runs, especially in high school," the scout said. "He is a big, strong, athletic-type kid. This year, there are not a lot of power-hitting kids to see. Some say, 'Minot, North Dakota, where is that?' Scouts that have that area must see him and judge for themselves if he is a prospect."

Athleticism is a strength for Elgie. Aside from his baseball recognition, he is a two-time all-state basketball player and three-time all-state football player for Minot High.

While some might question the quality of opposition in North Dakota, Elgie had some of his greatest success playing in the 2007 Central Plains Tournament against some of the top American Legion teams from the Midwest. He mashed five home runs in four games, including a shot out of the Metrodome in Minneapolis as the Vistas finished third in the tournament.

"We played well there," Elgie said. "I played well, I hit over .500 with five home runs. There's not much you can do (about the level of competition). It's just, are people willing to take a chance on a North Dakota kid?"

After committing to Kansas over the winter, Elgie said he will take a wait-and-see approach to the draft.

"I'm excited about it. Like (Vistas coach Todd Larson) said, I've got a win-win situation," Elgie said. "If I don't go where I want (in the draft), I'll be at Kansas. If I get drafted and things fall my way, then I'll have the opportunity to play pro baseball.

"We have some figures and rounds in mind from what we've heard from the scouts, but we don't have our mind set on a certain round. It's more play it by ear."

Elgie estimates he has had contact with 15-20 major league scouts. He said about 10 scouts have traveled to see him in person, including representatives from the Twins, Indians, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Dodgers.

"At first it was a little overwhelming," he said. "I've grown used to it. You just have to go out there and hustle and try to sell yourself by what you do on the field. You just have to go out and play."

Elgie said playing pro baseball has been a lifelong goal he thinks he can achieve.

"I feel like no one's going to go out there and work harder than me," he said. "It's been my dream. If I get a chance, I'm going to take it and go play professional baseball."

Bieri covers high school baseball for the Minot Daily News