Several local players made the grade in the wild, and weird Major League Baseball (MLB) abbreviated five-round draft on Wednesday and Thursday while the San Diego Padres took six newbies with hopes to bring them into the Petco fold.
The five-round 2020 MLB Draft is in the books now. A total of 160 selections were made over two nights in the abbreviated selection process. MLB shortened the 2020 draft from 40 rounds to five rounds this year in a cost-cutting move amid the coronavirus pandemic. The draft in the past has consisted of as many as 90 rounds in some years.
The Detroit Tigers picked Arizona State infielder Spencer Torkelson with the No. 1 overall pick, which was expected. But there were plenty of surprises in the early going.
Rancho Santa Fe hit the board with homegrown player Kyle Hurt. A right-handed pitcher out of USC, he was selected by the Miami Marlins with the No. 134 overall pick of the fifth round of the 2020 MLB Draft. Hurt was the only Trojan selected in this year’s draft.
— USC Baseball (@USC_Baseball) June 12, 2020
Hurt, a junior, played in 36 games, with 30 starts during his three-year Trojan career. He ends his collegiate career with a 5.06 ERA, 170 strikeouts and a 9-13 record.
During the shortened 2020 season, Hurt made four starts for a 2-1 record and a 3.71 ERA in 17.0 innings. He tied the team lead with 25 strikeouts and allowed eight walks.
He finished second on the team in 2019 as a sophomore with 74.1 innings pitched, while leading the team with 81 strikeouts. As a freshman, in 2018, he started 14 games and led the team with 81.1 innings pitched and was second on the team with a 4.76 ERA and 64 strikeouts. Hurt was named the Pac-12 Pitcher and Collegiate Baseball National Pitcher of the Week after throwing a no-hit against Utah on March 15, 2018.
At Torrey Pines High School, he pitched four shutouts his junior year and capped his career the following season with 187 strikeouts and a 1.51 ERA.
Carlsbad High School shortstop Thomas Saggese was selected in the fifth round of the 2020 MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers.
Saggese hit .422 and led the San Diego Section with ten home runs during his junior season. He was hitting .440 with three home runs in only seven games during his senior season before the COVID-19 pandemic. Saggese has signed to play at Pepperdine University.
— ??? ?????? (@LesLukach) January 19, 2020
The first San Diego player to be drafted was Alika Williams who played at Rancho Bernardo High. With the final pick of the first night of the MLB draft, the 37th overall, the Rays on Wednesday went out west for Williams, a junior shortstop from Arizona State.
Williams had 139 hits in 129 games with the Sun Devils. He received 2019 All-Pac 12 honorable mention after a sophomore season in which he posted career highs in batting average (.333) and RBIs (53).
He had 20 RBIs as a freshman.
The Rays select, Alika Williams, a SS from Arizona State, No. 37 overall.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) June 11, 2020
San Francisco selected Casey Schmitt out of eastlake High and San Diego State with the No. 49 overall pick. Schmitt is considered the best two-way player in the draft as a star third baseman and closer in college.
Schmitt, 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, had surgery on his meniscus before his junior season and wasn’t 100 percent healthy this year. Still, he hit .323 with four doubles and two triples in 16 games before the season was shut down. He also recorded six saves for the Aztecs.
As a sophomore, Schmitt hit .315 with five homers, eight doubles and 36 RBI. Over his college career, he hit .295 with six homers and also had a 2.48 ERA along with 23 saves.
Casey Schmitt smacks one off the left-field wall for a 2-RBI double and we’re all knotted up at 4-4!
— San Diego State Baseball (@AztecBaseball) May 27, 2018
With the No. 91 overall pick, the New York Mets selected shortstop Anthony Walters, a redshirt junior from San Diego State University. Walters, 6’1”, 185 lbs, is from Corona, California and a graduate of Tustin HS (CA).
According to his collegiate athlete profile found on goaztecs.com, as a shortstop at SDSU, Walters was known for his defensive abilities. In the shortened 2020 season, Walters had an .891 fielding percentage with 14 putouts and 35 defensive assists.
Prior to attending SDSU, Walters spent the 2017 season with UC Berkeley and the 2018 season with Mt. San Antonia College in Walnut California in 2018.
Third baseman Ben Ramirez of Eastlake High in Chula Vista was drafted in the 35th round by the Chicago Cubs.
An area disappointment, however, came in the form of Braden Olthoff, a right-handed pitcher who played at El Camino High and Palomar College before transferring to Tulane.
Several scouts turned him in as a seventh-rounder last season, but he went undrafted. So he went to Tulane.
Before the season was cut short he posted a 4-0 record with an 0.32 ERA. He didn’t allow an earned run over his last 24 innings, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
The whole MLB done messed up and now the rest of the NCAA is gonna pay for it. https://t.co/t7djpQsH9L
— Breaking Waves (@_breakingwaves_) June 12, 2020
Olthoff’s signature start was at Cal State Fullerton when he threw a complete-game, three-hit shutout in which he walked one batter and struck out 16.
“Olthoff is definitely on the radar now, and he wasn’t before the season started,” said ESPN’s McDaniel. “He was off to a big start and was getting great results. I can see him going as high as the third round.”
Olthoff started the season No. 493 in Baseball America’s Top 500 and is now No. 201, which falls just outside the five-round draft of 160 players.
“People keep telling me I’m zooming up the draft list, and I haven’t thrown a pitch in two months,” Olthoff said. “People are saying I could go as high as the second round and shouldn’t slip outside the fifth round.”
Former Madison standout Kevin Abel, who is at Oregon State, also was not selected in the abbreviated draft..
Abel was the MVP of the College World Series in 2018 as a freshman, but had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery early last season, and hasn’t pitched in more than a year.
“Abel is a polished pitcher with good stuff and a bulldog attitude,” said one scout. “But he hasn’t thrown for a while. “It will be very interesting to see if someone takes a chance on him.”
SAN DIEGO PADRES 2020 FIRST-YEAR PLAYER DRAFT SELECTIONS
During the two-day draft, the Padres selected two position players (both outfielders) and four pitchers (1 LHP, 3 RHP). The club selected two college players and four from the high school ranks.
With the 34th pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, the San Diego Padres selected Justin Lange, a right-handed pitcher out of Llano High School in Llano, Texas. He is currently committed to play collegiately at Dallas Baptist University
— MLB Draft (@MLBDraft) June 11, 2020
The 18 year old is one of the most athletic pitchers in this draft class at 6’4 and 220 pounds. Here are his strengths as a prospect from lastwordonbaseball.com:
“Lange’s strongest asset is his fastball/slider combination. Scouts grade his fastball as a 70/80. It typically sits in the 94-95 MPH range, but he has the ability to touch 100 MPH. The velocity on this pitch dictates the type of life it has. At lesser velocities, the pitch has good run and sink to it, but it has less life at higher velocities.”
“The slider that he complements his fastball with also has power. Scouts grade the pitch at 55/80, but it is a very inconsistent offering for Lange. At its worst, it is a below average sweeping slider, but it sits in the mid-80s with good bite to it when at its best. He rounds out his repertoire with a work-in-progress changeup.”
With their first pick in the opening round, the team selected outfielder Robert Hassell III out of Independence High School in Tennessee.
|1.||Robert Hassell III||OF||6-2||195||L/L||Independence High School (Tenn.)|
|Comp. A||Justin Lange||RHP||6-4||220||R/R||Llano High School (Texas)|
|2.||Owen Caissie||OF||6-4||190||L/R||Notre Dame Catholic SS (Ontario, Canada)|
|3.||Cole Wilcox||RHP||6-5||232||R/R||University of Georgia|
|4.||Levi Thomas||RHP||5-11||185||R/R||Troy University (Ala.)|
|5.||Jagger Haynes||LHP||6-3||170||L/L||West Columbus High School (N.C.)|
John Maffei of the North County Times and San Diego Union Tribune put out this compendium of local MLB draft information and stuff…
San Diego high school draft history
- In 55 years, there have been only four drafts — 1966, 1988, 1989 and 2009 — where a player hasn’t been taken in the top five rounds.
- 31 different players in 22 drafts have been taken in the first round.
- 16 of the 31 first-round picks have played in the big leagues.
- 8 years with multiple first-round drafts — 1970 (2), 1980 (2), 1982 (2), 1995 (2), 2004 (4), 2004 (2), 2014 (2), 2015 (2).
- 4 No. 1 overall picks — 1B Adrian Gonzalez (2000, Marlins), SS Matt Bush (2004, Padres), LHP Brady Aiken (2014, Astros), OF Mickey Moniak (2016, Phillies).
First-round picks by school:
Rancho Bernardo – 4
Point Loma – 2
Santana – 2
Mt. Carmel – 2
Poway – 2
Grossmont – 2
Morse – 2
Mission Bay – 2
University/Cathedral Catholic – 2
Eastlake – 2
Vista – 1
Torrey Pines – 1
La Costa Canyon – 1
Castle Park – 1
Christian – 1
Madison – 1
St. Augustine – 1
Orange Glen – 1
First-round picks by position
Outfielders – 8
Right-handed pitchers – 6
Left-handed pitchers – 5
Shortstops – 5
First base – 3
Third base – 2
Catcher – 2