Matt McPhearson
(Photo courtesy of McPhearson family)

Columbia's Matt McPhearson was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the No. 120 overall pick in baseball's amateur draft Friday. The Riverdale Baptist senior plans to sign with the organization.

"[I'm] happy, excited, thankful," McPhearson said when reached by phone after the selection. "It'll open up the door for me. I'm going to be an Arizona Diamondback. I'm going to work and show them why I deserve to be at the top."


The center fielder was high on many scouts' lists due to his exceptional speed — McPhearson can reach first base in less than four seconds and ran the 60-yard dash in 6.22 seconds.

McPhearson stole a school-record 68 bases in 72 attempts in 2012.

"The scout director [Ray Montgomery] and the general manager [Kevin Towers] are both speed guys, they like speed a whole lot," McPhearson said of the Diamondbacks. "Wherever you go, speed's going to play a big factor, and I know for a fact that my speed with play a big factor at any level."

But what concerned many scouts was McPhearson's hitting. He isn't a power hitter and struggled a big with plate discipline, but Riverdale Baptist head coach Terry Terrill worked with him on his patience at the plate to lower strikeouts and become a more consistent leadoff hitter. McPhearson believes that's the biggest facet of his game he will work on in the minors, as well.

"[I'll] become more of a gapper person, hit the gaps a little bit this year, become more consistent with that," he said.

McPhearson had committed to play college ball at Miami (Fla.), but he is planning to head out to Arizona next week to start working with the Diamondbacks staff.

He was the first of three players from the state to be selected Friday.

University of Maryland senior lefty Jimmy Reed went to the St. Louis Cardinals and Calvert Hall senior catcher Alex Murphy was taken by the Orioles -- both in the sixth round.

Reed, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound pitcher from Gaithersburg went 6-4 with a 2.33 ERA this season. A graduate of St. John's College High School in Washington, D.C., he was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 21st round last year but decided to return to the Terps.

Reed is the ninth Terp to be drafted over the past three years and program's highest selection since the Toronto Blue Jays took lefty Brett Cecil with the No. 38 overall pick in 2007.

"I'm pretty ecstatic right now," Reed said in a news release. "When my name was called, I screamed. It is really awesome to be picked in the sixth round by the Cardinals. The Cardinals are an amazing organization with a proven track record of developing pitchers. It's honestly the best situation for me."