Hortonville alum drafted by Padres
By Erik Buchinger
Caleb Boushley became the third Hortonville baseball player ever to be selected in the MLB Draft on Wednesday, June 14.
Boushley, a right-handed pitcher who graduated from Hortonville in 2012, was selected in the 33rd round (978th overall) by the San Diego Padres.
Boushley had no idea when he would be selected or who would select him but said he was confident he would be picked on the draft’s final day.
“I didn’t have a good feeling of how the draft was going to go or where I was going to fall, but it ended up working out for me,” Boushley said.
As the draft went along, Boushley kept an eye it closely for the first 20 rounds from a computer to see if some of the players he knew would be selected.
“After round 20, you start looking and waiting for my name to come up,” Boushley said. “I left to go golfing in the middle of the day to get my mind off it because I was driving myself crazy watching the draft tracker.”
After a round of golf, Boushley kept busy, playing Super Mario Bros. on Nintendo Wii when he got a text from his Northwoods League summer baseball coach Dale Varsho congratulating him at about 3:45 p.m.
Ten minutes later, Boushley received a call from the Padres saying he was a member of the team.
“It was a huge sigh of relief after just sitting around and waiting,” Boushley said. “I started getting nervous after the 30th round. I was glad the waiting was over, it had taken a toll on me.”
Boushley was at his parents’ house in Hortonville with his dad and younger brother when he was drafted, and his mom joined the celebration shortly after.
“My mom came home from work about 15 minutes after I got picked, and she might’ve been more excited than I was,” Boushley said.
Boushley said he and a Padres scout had been in contact, texting each other a few days before the draft.
“I had been talking with him back and forth throughout the season, and I knew they were interested,” Boushley said. “I didn’t know they’d select me, but I had a good relationship with the scout, and I knew there was a chance.”
Boushley can now reunite with former college teammate Taylor Kohlwey, who was picked by San Diego in the 2016 MLB Draft.
“It’s cool that I got picked by them since Taylor was drafted by them last year,” Boushley said. “Potentially being his teammate again would be pretty awesome.”
After graduating from Hortonville High School, Boushley spent two years at UW-Fox Valley before transferring to UW-La Crosse where he made his mark on the baseball team, guiding the Eagles to NCAA Division 3 World Series appearances in 2015 and 2016.
Boushley said it was in the summer of 2016 when he realized that playing professional baseball could be in his future. He played for the Eau Claire Express in the Northwoods League, a summer collegiate baseball league that has produced MLB stars including pitchers Max Scherzer and Chris Sale.
“I realized I had the ability to play with a lot of those guys,” Boushley said. “I had a pretty good season over the summer, and that’s when it became, not a reality, but something that could potentially happen.”
That summer, Boushley finished with an 8-2 record and a 2.95 ERA, and was selected to the league’s All-Star Game.
With MLB scouts at most of his games during his senior season at UW-La Crosse this spring, Boushley further solidified his status, as he set the school’s single-season strikeout record with 106, shattering the previous mark by 20, and was named an All-American for the second straight season.
Boushley set school records with career wins, innings pitched and strikeouts in three years at the school, where he graduated in May as an accounting major.
“I’ll at least have something to fall back on, but I’ll try to ride this baseball thing as long as I can,” Boushley said.
Since graduation, Boushley moved back in with his parents, staying active with running and stretching to keep his body loose. He also played in a few games with the Hortonville Stars of the Dairyland League.
Boushley said he will be flying to Phoenix, Arizona on Sunday where he will do a few workouts with all the team’s new players. There, he will be assigned to a team in the Padres organization and have a better idea where he is going by next week, he said.
Wherever he goes, Boushley said he will not do anything different now that he will facing professional hitters.
“I just have to keep doing what I have been doing and compete every pitch,” Boushley said. “I can’t do anything different just because I’m playing at another level. I have to do what I do, throw strikes, make guys get themselves out. If I keep doing that, hopefully I’ll be alright.”
Boushley said Varsho and his coach at UW-La Crosse Chris Schwarz were among those who helped increase his exposure to MLB teams.
“I had a lot of people in my corner that were helping me get looks, and I’m glad it worked out,” Boushley said.
Boushley would be the fifth Hortonville player to play professional baseball and the first since pitcher Dave Gassner, who was drafted in the 24th round in 2001 and reached the major leagues for two starts in 2005.
Boushley said he is appreciative of those who have helped him get here and heard from several friends and family congratulating him on the achievement.
“I talked to a lot of relatives on the phone and went out last night with some friends and had a few celebratory beverages,” Boushley said. “A lot of people reached out to me, so it was a pretty cool day.”