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Three local athletes one step closer to lifelong dream

Dustin Saenz, José Valadez Acuña, and Drake Osborn were all selected in the 2021 MLB Draft.
Jose Valadez Acuna.jpg
Posted at 3:06 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 19:09:19-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The dream of almost every young baseball player is to one day play in the major leagues.

This week, that dream took one step closer to becoming a reality for three local athletes.

“It was me and my parents, we were all super excited," Drake Osborn said. "It was a call I’ve been waiting for an extremely long time now."

Osborn is a catcher who graduated from Orange Grove High School. He played at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi before transferring to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He was drafted in the 19th round, with the 562nd overall pick by the New York Mets, and said he found out he’d been drafted simultaneously from the TV and a phone call from the team.

“I briefly saw it on the TV and then I received the phone call from the Mets,” he said.

José Valadez Acuña just graduated from Veterans Memorial High School, but he, too, was picked this week.

“I’m just a small kid from Corpus Christi, Texas, so it just doesn’t seem like it could be possible," Valadez Acuña said. "But, it happened, me and my family enjoyed every single moment of it."

Acuña was drafted in the 14th round, 415th overall by the Philadelphia Phillies. He said he’s never been to Philadelphia, but he’s excited for the opportunity.

“I’m not scared to try new things, so we’ll find out when we get there, I’m excited though,” he said. “It’s every kid’s dream growing up as a baseball player. So, to actually go out and live that dream that every kid wants, it’s amazing.”

Acuña’s mother, Jessica said the family was watching the draft, waiting for his name to be called, and got so nervous they turned the TV off. However, they turned it back on in time to find out he had been drafted.

“It was just a million emotions all at once,” she said. “We’re very proud and very happy. It’s been a long road.”

Now, the journey for the athletes continues - quickly. Dustin Saenz, a former King High School and Texas A&M pitcher, was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the fourth round, 112th overall, and already traveled to Washington to meet with team officials on Wednesday.

Osborn prepared Wednesday to head to Florida.

“I fly out [Thursday] morning to the Spring Training facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida," Osborn said. "It’s extremely exciting, it’s extremely humbling. Something you work your whole life for, to see it pay off is extremely exciting, extremely humbling, and I’m really grateful for the opportunity."

José Valadez Acuña will fly to Clearwater, Florida, later in the week. His mother said it feels sudden for him to go, but she and her husband have been preparing for this moment for a long time.

“He’s had this dream since he was little, he’s talked to us since he was a little boy that this is what he wanted, that he’s wanted to do this," she said. "He’s following his dreams, and that’s all we want him to do."