The former Point Pleasant standout and current Mountaineer pitcher was selected by the Colorado Rockies' organization Friday in the 15th round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
Durst, a 2004 PPHS graduate, was the 462nd selection overall and was also the eighth pitching prospect selected by the Rockies on Friday. Durst, completing his junior season at West Virginia, was also the second southpaw selected by Colorado.
“It is very, very exciting. It was kind of surprising and hard to explain in words how excited I was when I got the word,” Durst said. “I have a life changing opportunity in front of me. As long as I can remember I have always thought about playing big league baseball and for this to happen it is definitely a dream come true.”
Durst was sitting on his couch watching, what else, college baseball when he got the word that he had been selected.
“I was sitting on my couch in Morgantown watching the college world series and a scout called me in the third round and talked about picking me up in the 15th round and gave me an amount,” Durst said. “I was talking to my dad later and my roommate got on the computer and told me I had been drafted and I really didn't believe him at first and then I saw the computer and it was the real deal.”
The Point Pleasant native led West Virginia on the mound this season, pitching a team high 89.1 innings while going 5-5 in 2007. He also led the team with 72 strikeouts compared to just 21 walks with a 4.52 earned run average.
He also had an outstanding high school career at Point Pleasant and was part of a team Point Pleasant head coach James Higginbotham calls one of the best he has ever coached.
But it wasn't until last year that Durst realized that he actually had what it took to play in the big leagues.
“I first realized last spring in my sophomore year. I heard that I was throwing pretty hard in a game and being left handed and throwing as hard as I did I realized I might actually have a chance,” Durst said. “As a left hander, sometimes your arm strength has a lot to do with what the scouts think about you and that was the first time I realized this might actually happen.”
Over his pitching career at WVU Durst has a career record of 10-12 in 192 innings pitched with 131 strikeouts and 73 walks.
“It was probably the first big dream I had, playing for West Virginia in my home state in front of my home fans and it has been great. The last three years I have had the opportunity to play and represent the state,” Durst said. “It is really hard to believe that I actually got drafted. It is something that you hope for but never really expect to happen, I am just at a loss for words,” Durst said.
And no one does it alone. Durst said there are many people who have been important in getting him to this point.
“I would like to thank my parents for giving me every opportunity they have and then coach (Greg) Van Zant up here, I thank him for everything he has done for me,” Durst said. “All the coaches that have helped me along the way, coach Higginbotham at Point Pleasant and all the coaches up here at West Virginia, I can't thank them enough.”
Durst was one of four West Virginia players taken on the second day of the major league draft that began Thursday. Centerfielder Adam White went in the ninth round to the Cleveland Indians, pitcher Levi Maxwell was taken in the 18th round by the Chicago White Sox and shortstop Tyler Kuhn was picked in the 33rd round by the Indians.
It was the first time since a school-record six were drafted in 2001 that more than four WVU players have gone the same year.
Next up for the 6-foot, 195-pound Durst is a trip to Colorado to discus a contract early next week. If he signs, he could be playing somewhere out West as soon as the end of next week, possibly in Washington or Wyoming.