For most high school athletes their seasons end when the regular season does but for Bonney Lake’s Michael Gretler that isn’t how his senior year played out.
Michael along with the Panthers baseball team fought its way to the 3A state championship game extending its season by nine games.
The Panthers lost its final game 12-0 to O’Dea for the state title.
Despite the outcome of the game, Michael said to play in the championship game as a senior was an “unbelievable experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Ever since entering high school, Michael and his teammates had the goal of reaching that final game and every year, he said they would get “closer and closer but this year we were able to put everything together.”
Even though the end of the season was upsetting, Michael added “looking back, it was an amazing season.”
The Panthers ended the season 18-11 compared to its state championship opponent’s 25-2 overall record.
“I don’t think many people outside our locker room thought that we could make it to the state championship and that is why we have nothing to hang our heads about,” Michael said.
And for Michael it didn’t stop there, he played his final games of his high school career over the weekend in the All-State Baseball Series.
Bonney Lake’s coach Michael Olson has coached Michael for the past six years starting when he was in seventh grade all the way through the All-State series where Olson along with other Panther coaching staff finished the year together.
“He has been a team captain for three years and represents his program and his school like no other,” Olson said.
Playing in your final games of your high school career is different for everyone.
Michael said for him it was exciting because he knew his final games would be played in the state tournament but once it was over “it was pretty sad.”
Once back in the locker room after the final game it hit him, he said, that he would not be able to play with the same teammates and best friends that he had for the past four years.
But even so, his baseball career isn’t over. In fact, it’s beginning again.
Michael was honored in November at a lunch time assembly for signing his letter of intent to attend and play baseball at Oregon State University this coming fall.
At the time of the assembly, he had just recently returned from Boston where he was invited to a workout with the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
“The workout in Boston was one of the coolest baseball experiences of my life,” he said.
Michael added he had always wanted to go to Fenway to watch a game but never imagined his first time in the park would be him playing on the field.
The World Series just ended at Fenway less than a week prior to his workout.
“Standing on that field where the Red Sox had celebrated just days ago was insane,” Michael said.
Michael was even able to see and hold the 2004, 2007 and 2013 World Series trophies.
And seven months later it appears that workout paid off, in the 39th round of the Major League Baseball draft on June 7 Michael was drafted by the Boston Red Sox.
He is one of seven players drafted from Washington state and he is the first player from Bonney Lake High School to be drafted.
Michael said being drafted by Boston was “one of the greatest moments of my life.”
He added it is surreal because most players dream of getting their names called in the draft.
In fact, he said the Red Sox have always been his favorite team describing that his room is decorated with Red Sox items and a mural of Fenway Park on one wall.
When you think of being drafted, you picture the player sitting in a room filled with family and friends waiting for the call.
That isn’t how it happened for Michael.
The day of the draft, Michael was playing a double header with his summer league team in Vancouver.
He said after the first game he checked his phone and that’s when he figured it must have happened because his phone “was blown up with text messages.”
Still he didn’t know what team or what round he was drafted in until he read a text from his mom, Nancy Gretler.
He had no idea that he would be drafted by any team because he said he had told a number of scouts that unless he was offered “first round money” he would go to Oregon State and play there.
Aside from the Red Sox, Michael said throughout the year he had heard from 20-25 teams.
“With all the hard work that I have put in over the years it is very satisfying to see it paying off and that other people believe in me and my ability as a player,” he said. “For me it is motivation to work even harder, knowing that I am on the right path, I want to give it everything I can so that I never have any regrets.”
Olson said there are five “tools” that major league scouts look for in young players from their hitting average to arm strength and speed but he said what sets Michael apart is he possesses the sixth tool.
Olson said the sixth tool is character and mental makeup and Michael “carries himself on and off the field with confidence, pride and sportsmanship.”
Michael said entering into his senior season, he knew there was a 90 percent chance that he would still go to Oregon even if he was drafted by a major league team.
He said going to Oregon, “there are many things that I want to improve on as a player.”
Michael added playing for Oregon State will help him have the best chance at succeeding in the majors.
The Oregon State Beavers won the Pac 12 for the second year in a row and Michael said he is “beyond excited for the opportunity to play for the coaches down there and do everything I can to help the team win games next year.”
His parents Nancy and Jim Gretler agree that Michael’s decision to attend Oregon State first is the wise choice.
At the moment he isn’t concerned with what he can bring to a team in the majors.
“I know I am far away from being in a position to help a major league team,” he said. “(However) one day I hope I will be able to be a franchise leader for an organization but that will be when the time is right.”
When Michael travels to Oregon in the fall, he said he will spend the first two years working with the exploratory studies program.
He said the baseball team’s academic counselor advised that he do this because it will help him be able to change majors, if he needs to, and will help him stay eligible to play on the team.
If things go according to plan, he said, “I would love to do something with pharmacy and I am also interested in business.”
Apart from baseball, as Michael gets older he said he wants to be able to help support his family and help coach and mentor young players.
Michael credits his coaches, parents, friends, teachers, weight lifting partners and anyone else who has helped him over his baseball career with how he has gotten where he is today.
“Without their support and knowledge I would never have been able to achieve everything I have and I want to do the same for young kids one day,” Michael said.
Being the first player drafted from Bonney Lake is not only special for Michael but for the school and the baseball program as well.
Olson said it brings a “tremendous amount of pride to the program and legitimizes the dream of playing professional baseball” for those still playing for the Panthers.
“We are so happy for him, he has absolutely earned this wonderful opportunity,” Olson said.