TULLAHOMA — Justus Sheffield enjoyed the most exciting day of his baseball career Wednesday.
He hopes there will be another one coming soon as the major league baseball draft starts Thursday night.
Sheffield, a Vanderbilt signee from Tullahoma, became the first athlete from a Tennessee high school to win a national award from Gatorade when he was named the national baseball player of the year.
Alex Rodriguez, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Upton are among the past winners.
“Looking at those names, it’s like, ‘Wow, how did I win this award?’ ” Sheffield said. “I’m going to try my hardest to be where they’re at. I couldn’t believe it. My jaw dropped (when they told me). I wish I could relive that moment forever.”
The left-handed pitcher who throws in the 90s is ranked No. 49 on Baseball America’s list of top prospects available for the draft. The first two rounds are today.
Sheffield said he just returned from pre-draft workouts for Arizona and Kansas City. His father, Travis, said Toronto and Boston also had shown interest in his son.
Boston drafted his older brother, Jordan, in the 13th round last year after an elbow injury wiped out most of his senior season, but he opted for Vanderbilt, where he redshirted this year.
Justus might face a similar decision.
“Really, it just depends on the best overall, all-around fit for me,” Justus said. “It was hard for Jordan just because he was injured.”
Watching his older brother go through the draft and the college process helped Justus.
“Everything that Jordan went through last year, Justus was right there because we knew this year he would have to go through the same process,” Travis said. “So we figured why not have them both sit in on it, and I think that’s helped Justus this year.”
Playing at Vanderbilt with Jordan is appealing, but Travis isn’t sure what his son will decide.
“Who doesn’t want to go play where their brother plays or relive that high school and Little League all over again?” Travis said. “As a parent, it sure would be a whole lot easier on us if they both wound up at the same place. But the ultimate decision is going to what Justus feels in his heart and gut. That’s what we told him, ‘Whatever you decide, we’re right there behind you.’ “
Justus is enrolled at Vanderbilt’s summer session, Travis said.
Justus said he talked to Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede, a projected first-round pick who was also a first-round pick in 2011, at last week’s Nashville regional.
“He told me to just stay calm,” Justus said. “‘It’s a great experience and just enjoy the moment.'”
Trot Nixon, a former Boston Red Sox right fielder, presented the national player of the year trophy to Sheffield.
Nixon played in the minor leagues at Winter Haven, Fla., with Justus’ and Jordan’s second cousin, Tony, a 1992 Tullahoma graduate.
Justus Sheffield led Tullahoma (24-15) to a Class AAA sectional with a 10-0 record and a 0.34 ERA this season.
He had 131 strikeouts in 61.2 innings. He batted .405 with 16 RBIs, three home runs and 13 doubles.
Reach Chip Cirillo at 615-664-2194 and on Twitter @ChipCirillo.