Vanderbilt’s Hunter Owen pitches against Oregon during an NCAA regional tournament game on June 3. The former South Portland High star was 4-0 with a 3.52 ERA this spring for the Commodores. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Hunter Owen was hoping to be drafted a little bit sooner. Quinn McDaniel was drafted sooner than projected.

That’s the volatility of the Major League Baseball draft, which this year was considered to have one of the deepest pools of talent ever.

Owen, the 6-foot-6, 261-pound left-handed pitcher from South Portland High and Vanderbilt University, was selected Monday by the Kansas City Royals in the fourth round, the 106th player chosen overall. He had been ranked No. 56 by and No. 61 by Baseball America on their respective prospects lists.

“It’s kind of an honor, you know?” said Owen, who is vacationing with his family in Jacksonville, Florida. “It’s a step in the journey to the major leagues and I’m always grateful for every opportunity presented in my life and I hope to do the best with what’s been given to me.”

McDaniel, a Marshwood High grad from Eliot and a three-year starting second baseman at the University of Maine, was picked in the fifth round by the San Francisco Giants, the 153rd overall pick. The 5-11, 180-pound second baseman was ranked No. 241 by Baseball America, the equivalent of a middle eighth-round pick. did not have McDaniel in its top 250.

University of Maine second baseman Quinn McDaniel, a Marshwood High grad, hit .354 this spring with an on-base percentage of .513. He hit 16 homers and stole 32 bases. AP Photo/Gail Burton

“I think I was kind of under-scouted a lot, just being from the University of Maine and everybody can say maybe I haven’t seen the competition that some others have but it just comes down to (the Giants) got to know me and they believed in me and I’m excited to show what I can do,” McDaniel said.


San Francisco was the first organization to show significant interest in McDaniel, starting two years ago, and area scout Ray Callari had seen him play several times this season when he hit .354 with an on-base percentage of .513 while hitting 16 home runs and stealing 32 bases, starting all 53 games.

Owen, 21, had received a phone call from his advisor a few picks earlier that the Royals intended to select him with the 106th overall choice.

“I think everyone was equally excited when we heard the pick. My mom was crying a little bit, just because of how the journey has gone and the cool places I’ve played and the cool places I’ve been. My sisters might have been crying a little. They were a little emotional,” Owen said. “I definitely didn’t cry, but that doesn’t mean it means anything less to me.”

Owen becomes the highest drafted player who grew up in Maine since Tre Fletcher was picked in the second round (58th overall) in 2019.

McDaniel, 20, wasn’t far behind and, he said, he might have been taken even sooner.

“There were some negotiations going on (with his advisor). A few teams maybe tried to low-ball me with a number below slot value, but, yeah with the Giants we came to an agreement,” McDaniel said. “Nothing’s been signed yet but it’s a big relief and there’s a lot of excitement for the work ahead of me.”


Major League Baseball assigns approximate signing bonus values for picks in the first 10 rounds – referred to as the pick’s slot value. Teams and players can negotiate higher or lower bonuses.

McDaniel said he wasn’t exactly sure what the agreed-upon figure is but understood it to be close to the $400,600 approximate value for the 153rd pick – about $200,000 more than if he’d been taken in the eighth round as projected.

“I’m not really too worried about it. I’m just excited that I got my foot in the door,” said McDaniel, who expects to report to the Giants’ spring training facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, “within the next week.”

Owen’s approximate signing bonus value at No. 106 is $634,200. The slot value for the 56th pick is $1.47 million.

“I’m excited. If the negotiations work out and I get to sign I will definitely be excited for the opportunity,” Owen said.

Owen continues a tradition of South Portland High pitchers who have been drafted, including Bill Swift who was the second player chosen overall in 1984 and had a 13-year major league career after starring at the University of Maine. Jim Beattie (fourth round, 1975), brothers Mike Howard (sixth round, 1975) and Fred Howard (sixth round, 1976), Steve Loubier (19th round, 1987) and Charlie Furbush (fourth round, 2007) also pitched at South Portland. Swift, Beattie, Fred Howard, and Furbush reached the major leagues.


Big and athletic, Owen consistently threw his fastball in the 92-94 mile an hour range this past season at Vanderbilt, with a good curveball in the 70s and a slider, that scouts believe will be a better swing-and-miss pitch, and a developing change up.

His college career has been one of slow progress. As a freshman and sophomore he was used mostly as a relief pitcher in a limited role, pitching 16 2/3 innings and then 26 2/3 innings as a sophomore. This spring he was a once-a-week starter for the Commodores, who play in the Southeastern Conference. Owen was 4-0 with a 3.52 ERA over 64 innings, striking out 76 batters while walking 17.

As he started the season strong, including throwing a complete-game two-hitter against Mississippi, Owen’s draft stock rose rapidly and he was generally considered the top draft-eligible left-handed college pitcher, with an outside shot at being selected in the first round. He missed four scheduled starts over the final six weeks of the regular season with shoulder soreness, which may have contributed to him being drafted lower than projected.

Owen does have one season of eligibility remaining with Vanderbilt. Players are eligible for the draft after they have completed their junior season in college, or after they have turned 21. It is uncommon but not unprecedented for players drafted relatively high to return to college for a senior season.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.