ELKHART — For two straight hours early Wednesday evening, Cory Malcom stayed parked on his bed and stared at the live Major League Baseball draft tracker appearing on his device.
Suddenly, his name appeared. The former Elkhart Central superstar had just been drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 34th round, the 1,024th pick overall.
"It's a feeling I'll never forget," Malcom said Thursday from his parents' Elkhart home. "I saw my name and went out to the kitchen to show my dad (Jimmy). We hugged, and then the tears started flying ... for both of us. My mom (Christine) was still at work, so I called her."
A short time earlier, Cory Malcom had received an indication that the Cardinals would be selecting him, but indications, even promises, given by pro sports teams can blow up in an instant based on other developments.
"A scout for the Cardinals called me during the 32nd round, asked if any other teams had been contacting me," Malcom said. "I told him a couple had. He said they were getting ready to take me pretty soon."
Baltimore, Colorado and Oakland were other clubs that expressed interest in the 22-year-old right-handed pitcher out of Arkansas Little Rock, while about a dozen ogranizations a few weeks ago at least asked him to complete standard questionnaires and medical forms.
None of those franchises, though, could've delivered precisely the same thrill that St. Louis was able to provide.
"I've always been a Cardinals fan," Malcom said, still sounding a bit choked up Thursday. "The very first major league game I ever went to was the last game at the old Busch Stadium (in 2005) on a trip with my travel team, and they've been my team ever since."
Malcom plans to fly out of South Bend on Saturday morning to the Cardinals' training headquarters in Florida, where he's expected to undergo a physical and sign a contract. After that, he could be assigned to any of the organization's four rookie-ball or Class A affiliates.
While college seniors chosen as deep into the draft as him typically receive signing bonuses of around $1,000, according to Malcom, "I was able to get a much better deal and am grateful."
Malcom declined to reveal the bonus amount.
As far as regular pay, pro rookies typically earn around just $1,100 a month, according to a USA Today report in 2016.
Such pay rates — in stark contrast to the riches that await top draft picks and the small percentage of other players who eventually make the majors — are why choosing pro baseball is not always the automatic choice.
"I wasn't completely sure at first I wanted to do it," admitted Malcom, who is pursuing a master's degree in sports management and understands that his draft position means he's projected as an extreme long shot.
"But when I woke up this morning, the first thing I thought about was how much I wanted to do it. It's been my dream. I don't want to look back at 40 and wonder what would've happened."
Ex-Blazer and Rip City Rebels travel teammate Tanner Tully, now in his second year in the Cleveland Indians organization, is one of the individuals with whom Malcom conferred.
"He kind of helped talk me into it, said you gotta do it," Malcom shared.
Ironically, now Malcom won't get to watch his friend pitch at Four Winds Field. Tully, drafted in the 26th round a year ago by Cleveland, is scheduled to start Saturday evening against the host South Bend Cubs, the same day Malcom will fly out of that same city.
"I wish I could go see Tanner play," Malcom said Thursday, speaking on exactly the four-year anniversary of Central winning the Class 4A state title. "All my baseball buddies I still hang around with, we were planning to go to that game."
Instead, Malcom will be in the process of launching his own pro career.
It comes on the heels of finishing 4-5 with a 3.46 earned run average in his senior season for UALR, which went 21-34 as a team. Malcom set a program record with 109 strikeouts, against just 19 walks, over 96 1/3 innings spanning 16 appearances and 14 starts. His K-to-walk ratio of 5.74 led the Sun Belt Conference and ranked 25th in the nation.
Not only was he drafted by the Cardinals, but so was one of his catchers, Cameron Knight (32nd round), marking the first time UALR has had two players chosen in the same draft since 2009.
"I can't thank people enough for all the support I've had," Malcom said. "To all my peers in Elkhart, my coaches, my family, I want to say thank you."