COLUMBIA — Missouri outfielder Blake Brown said it was "pure joy" when he found out his lifelong dream had come true.
Brown was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday, becoming the highest pick for Missouri since 2009 when Kyle Gibson was taken in the first round by the Minnesota Twins with the 22nd overall pick..
"Being drafted is everything you hope for growing up," Brown said Tuesday by phone.
With the 179th overall selection, the Braves selected Brown, who says he will forgo his senior season at Missouri and sign with the Braves organization in the coming days.
The 20-year-old outfielder hit .302 with 10 home runs and had 17 stolen bases in 2012. Brown's combination of speed and power had scouts projecting him to be picked anywhere between the fourth and 12th rounds.
"In the fifth round people (teams) started calling, and I started getting a little anxious," Brown said.
In 2009, Brown was drafted out of Normal (Ill.) Community West High School in the 48th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but elected to play for Missouri instead of playing professionally.
"I was more relaxed this time because I understood the process better," Brown said. "I understood the challenges ahead of going through the process."
Brown said making the decision to leave Missouri and sign with the Braves organization was a difficult one.
"Mizzou got me where I am today," Brown said. "I learned a lot of life lessons, not just in baseball, but in life. It made me the person I am today."
Brown helped lead the Tigers to the Big 12 tournament championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament. During the tournament he hit .333, scoring the game-winning run in the Big 12 Championship game against Oklahoma and earning a place on the all-tournament team. For his Missouri career, Brown hit 18 home runs, 88 RBIs and was named All-Big 12 honorable mention twice.
"I'm someone who will work hard and try to make the most out of what I've been given, and do what I can do," Brown said.
Several recruits who have signed to play for Missouri were also drafted Tuesday.
Alec Rash from Adel, Iowa was selected with the last pick in the second round by the Philadelphia Phillies. Mexico High School pitcher Hunter Haynes was taken in the 13th round by the Kansas City Royals. Bralin Jackson of Raytown was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth round (182nd overall).
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.