Bruner drafted by Baltimore, but will opt for Washington State

Returning home last Saturday from the Washington All-State Baseball Series in Yakima, the weekend’s events hit home for Layne Bruner.

During Saturday’s game, the Montesano ace left-handed pitcher was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 26th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. Bruner went 3-for-3, with two doubles, an RBI and two runs scored, in the contest.

Despite being drafted, his path this summer and fall hasn’t changed.

The plan for Bruner is to play baseball for the Cowlitz Black Bears, a Longview-based collegiate wooden bat team in the West Coast League, and then begin classes at Washington State University in Pullman in the fall.

“That’s the plan,” said Bruner, who walked in his graduation ceremony at Montesano High School on Sunday. “It was a couple of busy days. Coming home, it hit me. When you are a little kid, you say you’re going to play for the Mariners. It is a weird feeling. Did I really do that? You almost have to question yourself, it is such a good feeling (to get drafted). It feels great and a lot of hard work is paying off.

“If I thought work was hard now, wait until I get over to Pullman.”

Even though Bruner set his draft demands high to sign a professional baseball contract, forgoing his full-ride scholarship to WSU, on Friday, some major league teams still tried to gauge his interest in pro baseball.

According to Montesano head baseball coach Mike Bruner, Layne’s father, several teams called after Friday’s portion of the draft to see if Layne would still sign if they could hit his “mark” with draft pool money — allocated money that is unused on draft picks from the 11th round down.

During Saturday’s All-State game, coach Bruner got calls from the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Kansas City Royals regarding Layne. However, Baltimore, which quietly had interest in the pitcher, selected him with the 789th overall pick.

“I saw my Dad during the game and he told me the Orioles,” Layne Bruner said. “I got a couple of calls during the game, but I wasn’t going to answer them then. (The Orioles) called me that night and we talked. They’re going to see how much I improve over the summer. They hadn’t showed much interest before, but I heard they usually stay quiet until they pick you.”

“All indications say that he’ll be a Cougar,” Mike Bruner said. “We’re really thankful to the Baltimore organization in their interest and grateful that they chosen him. He has his path and he’ll stick with it.”

One person who is waiting for Bruner to show up is Washington State head baseball coach Donnie Marbut. The Grays Harbor native heavily recruited Bruner and helped him get set up with the Black Bears to play against college players this summer.

“Layne made a great decision for himself and for us,” Marbut said. “I really believe if he works his tail off and does the things successful players have done, he has all of the tools in the world to be a major league player. Layne is, in my opinion, the top left-handed high school pitching prospect in the Northwest.

“Kids like Layne who put in the time and work, they are rewarded,” Marbut added. “The best teams in college baseball are stocked full of players like Layne. And, Layne didn’t cave in. He set his demands and he stuck to them. I can not wait to coach him.”

Marbut said that Bruner will be a part of one of the best pitching staffs Washington State has ever had next fall. The staff will benefit from Bruner’s presence as well — it was short on left-handed pitching last season.

“It is a talented staff; to add Layne and the other guys in the recruiting class, that makes us really happy,” Marbut said. “In three years, we’ll be talking differently about Layne. This summer, he’ll play against college competition and get some experience (at Cowlitz). Once he shows up in the fall, he’ll be ready.”