BISMARCK — Dylan Dodd is the first Bismarck-Henning graduate ever to be selected in an MLB draft.
That piece of history became true Monday afternoon, when Dodd was taken by the Atlanta Braves 96th overall in the third round of the 2021 draft.
“It’s a pretty surreal moment,” said Dodd, who’s spent the last three years pitching for Southeast Missouri State. “I figured I was going to get picked up (Monday) ... but I didn’t know for sure until five minutes before.”
Dodd’s parents, grandparents and a few close friends surrounded him back home in Bismarck when his name appeared on the MLB draft tracker, which lists Dodd’s pick value at more than $604,000.
“Atlanta, that’s an amazing place to be,” the 23-year-old left-handed hurler said. “I wanted a chance to play, and I got that.”
What makes the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Dodd’s rise to professional baseball even more impressive is that he didn’t become a full-time pitcher until 2019 during his first spring with the Redhawks.
He previously played at first base and in the outfield while also hitting and occasionally pitching for two years at Kankakee Community College after four years at Bismarck-Henning. He also played football and basketball for the Blue Devils in high school.
“I felt like everyone kind of knew my talent was in my arm,” Dodd said. “When I stopped hitting, it created so much more for me on the pitching side.”
Dodd described his fastball as his “bread and butter” pitch but added that he’s seen growth in his changeup and slider, especially during his third and final season at SEMO. Dodd took advantage of being offered an extra college season, permitted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and helped the Redhawks to an NCAA regional appearance while cracking the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings South All-Region Team. He’s now SEMO’s highest-ever draft pick.
Dodd posted a 9-2 record with a 3.17 earned run average this past spring, striking out 120 batters across 96 2/3 innings. He led the Ohio Valley Conference in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched and rated second in ERA en route to OVC Pitcher of the Year honors.
“I ended up making the right decision,” Dodd said of returning to the Redhawks. “I had chances to do a free agent deal last year, but I focused on getting my school done ... and I think it paid off.”
Dodd isn’t sure exactly what’s next for him on the diamond. He anticipates traveling to a team facility in the coming days for a physical, but he’s ready to go wherever he’s needed afterward.
“Whatever’s next for me is up to them — whether they’ll shut me down since I’ve thrown quite a few innings or throw me into Low-A or High-A (minor league ball),” Dodd said. “It’s like, holy cow, let’s do this. Let’s get going.”
Dodd joins a recent spate of former area talent to get drafted.
Five local athletes were taken in the 2019 MLB draft — former Champaign Central products Tanner Gordon, Joe Aeilts, Alec Barger and Jake Snider and Centennial graduate Jeff Lindgren — and Danville’s Chuckie Robinson was selected in the 2016 draft. Both Gordon and Barger are pitchers in the Braves’ minor league system Dodd is about to join.
Dodd earned News-Gazette All-Area baseball first-team status as a junior in 2015 and as a senior in 2016, helping the Blue Devils to a 19-11 record in the latter season. Now, he’s helped put his alma mater on the map again. In a big way.
“I couldn’t be any more thankful to represent Vermilion County. What Bismarck’s done for me has been amazing.” Dylan Dodd said. “My family and my friends and all the support I’ve gotten throughout the years has been incredible. I feel like I owe them a huge thank you and acknowledgement for what they’ve done.”