Huddled around a laptop with family and friends is where Justin Pacchioli’s dream of being drafted finally came true. His name wasn’t called, but rather posted on the MLB Draft Tracking website: San Diego Padres – CF Justin Pacchioli – Lehigh University, it read.
The Easton, Pennsylvania, native didn’t shake the hands of the league’s commissioner, nor did he take an iconic photo sporting the cap of his new team, but the accomplishment was made nonetheless. Pacchioli is headed to Major League Baseball.
Pacchioli, who has been scouted by Major League clubs since he was a teenager at Nazareth High School, received a text message from a San Diego scout early on the morning of June 9.
The message read: “Hey Justin, just got a text from the draft room – we want to know if you would 100% sign if we took you in the 10th round.”
“Absolutely,” Pacchioli responded.
After sharing the information with his family and friends, “Team Pacchioli” watched the computer screen as San Diego was next on the clock with the 297th overall pick in the 10th round.
“I was like, ‘Well maybe this is it right here,’ once the Padres pick came up in the last round of the day,” Pacchioli said. “If I was going today, it’s going to happen right here.”
It happened. Pacchioli is heading to the Padres spring training complex in Phoenix, Arizona, on June 12.
There he will be working out, and negotiating his entry-level contract. The San Diego front office will then assign the First Team All-Patriot League outfielder to either rookie ball or the club’s short season single-A affiliate, the Tri-City Dust Devils, in Pasco, Washington.
For Pacchioli, the dream of playing professional baseball was put on hold last year after going undrafted. Instead, he returned to Lehigh and led the Mountain Hawks to their first Patriot League championship since 2006.
“To come back for my senior year and win a Patriot League championship, and win a ring that you work for four years and to get drafted right after that, it was almost like a story book ending for my college career,” Pacchioli said.
Pacchioli posted a .342 batting average this past season and is leaving Bethlehem as the university’s all-time stolen base leader with 69. Pacchioli will join Colorado Rockies first baseman Matt McBride, ’06, who is the most recent Mountain Hawk to play professional baseball. McBride, who has kept tabs on the latest Lehigh Valley slugger, reached out to Pacchioli right after he heard the good news.
“He just texted me saying congratulations and that he was real proud of me and that I was going to do great things,” Pacchioli said. “That was just awesome. He’s someone I try to model just because of the fact that he was one of the first Lehigh players to get drafted and make it to the big leagues.”
After being under-recruited in high school by big name college programs, two surgeries in his hand and going undrafted in 2014, Pacchioli is headed to the MLB and isn’t looking back.