By Charles Whisnand
Appeal Sports Editor
If this keeps up, the Western Nevada College baseball program will be known as the Atlanta Braves West Coast affiliate.
Kyle Farrell is on his way to the Braves organization. He's among four WNC pitchers who have been drafted by the Braves in the last two years.
It was a big day for players with Northern Nevada ties on the second and final day of the Major League draft with several area players being taken on Friday. Among them was Dayton's Matt Bowman, who was taken in the 49th round by the Oakland Athletics.
Farrell was one of two WNC pitchers taken by the Braves on Friday. In all, four pitchers with WNC ties were taken in the draft on Friday.
Along with Farrell, Stephen Sauer, who is now a junior right-handed pitcher for Arizona State, was taken in the 10th round, and WNC pitchers Josh Moody and Jose Barajas were also chosen. Moody was taken in the 29th round by the Braves and Barajas was taken in the 26th round by the Orioles.
Moody and Farrell join former WNC pitchers Cole Rohrbough and T.J. Wohlever, who are both now in the Braves organization. Farrell was taken in the ninth round and will sign with the Braves in the next few days.
He will receive a $150,000 signing bonus, which is the slot money for fifth-round picks. In addition, the Braves will pay for Farrell's final three years of college if Farrell chooses to return to school. Farrell is expected to start out with the Braves Rookie League team in the Gulf Coast League.
WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said it was always known that Farrell would sign for fifth- round money as it was a prearranged deal. It was still a couple of stressful days for Farrell, a right-handed pitcher, after not being taken in the first six rounds on Thursday.
"At first it made me kind of worried and I was stressed out," said Farrell, who completed his freshman year at WNC this past season. "But then it was a relief. It made me happy. I'm moving on. I'm grateful things worked out."
If Farrell hadn't been drafted high enough, he said he would have returned to WNC.
"I would have gladly come back," Farrell said. "They made it happen. They made me a better player."
But everyone involved " Farrell and WNC " really knew that the plan was for Farrell to play one year with the Wildcats and then hopefully sign with a big league team.
Farrell said nothing has been said about how quickly the Braves expect him to progress through the minors.
"They never said anything about that," Farrell said. "They're just excited to get me. That's all they said. I'm not too worried about that. I just want to play ball. It's definitely an exciting part of my life and a big relief, too. I just know there's a lot of work to be done."
Barajas will also sign with the Baltimore Orioles in the next couple of weeks and is also expected to report to the Orioles Gulf Coast League Rookie League team. Barajas would likely command a signing bonus around $20,000.
The Orioles will go by "last year's numbers and then go from there," said Barajas on how his signing bonus will be negotiated. "I want to get started with my pro career and start working."
Barajas also credited WNC with his success. "I had good coaches, the best coaches," he said.
He said WNC's coaches told him, "if I worked hard I would make it. All the hard work paid off."
The White Sox won't negotiate with Sauer until after his season is over, which is hopefully after the College World Series. Sauer and ASU are taking on Fresno State this weekend in the Super Regional for the right to go to the World Series.
Sauer understandably didn't want talk about if he'll decide to sign with the White Sox or return for his senior year until after the season's over. Something to think about for Sauer is that he'll have more bargaining power this year as opposed to next year.
As a 10th round pick, Sauer could also command a six-figure signing bonus. Sauer was the first ASU pitcher taken in the draft.
"That's the thing," said Sauer about signing as a junior as opposed to a senior. "That's why going in your junior year is so thought of because you have a little bargaining power."
The biggest surprise of the draft was the selection of Moody, a left-handed pitcher, who just finished his freshman year. Whittemore said pitching coach Dennis Banks gave him a heads up Friday morning that Moody could be drafted.
"I didn't wake up today and know it was going to happen," Whittemore said. "I certainly think he's going to be outstanding down the road. He's got command of three or four pitches. He's a great competitor. Someday he's going to make a very good professional pitcher. I don't expect it to happen this summer."
Whittemore also said about Moody returning to WNC next season, "I have no reason to believe otherwise at this point."
Rohrbough's early success in the Braves organization has had a great deal to do with why the team keeps going back to WNC.
"I think they have a lot of respect for coach Banks," Whittemore said.
Three players who have signed to play next season with WNC were also taken in the draft. Right-handed pitcher Kramer Champlin was the first pick in the 37th round by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Tampa Bay also took right-handed pitcher Sam Gaviglio with the first pick in the 40th round. Outfielder Colby Sokol was taken in the 44th round by the Minnesota Twins.
Whittemore said Sokol and Champlin will still come to WNC, but that he expects Gaviglio to play for Oregon State. When players sign with a junior college, it's nonbinding and they can still opt to play for a four-year school.
Bowman admitted that he was surprised to be drafted. "I haven't even talked to them," said Bowman about the A's. "I talked to them last year a little bit. It's pretty cool and pretty surprising."
Bowman will now have a chance to impress scouts in the Cape Cod League this summer before he returns for his senior year at the University of Nevada.
Three Nevada seniors will have a chance to sign with Major League teams. Galena's Rod Scurry, a right-handed pitcher, was taken in the 31st round by the Colorado Rockies.
Third baseman Jason Rodriguez was taken in the 15th round by the Cleveland Indians. Dan Eastham, who pitched for the Nevada Bighorns last summer, was taken in the 36th round as a right-handed pitcher by the Orioles.
Another local player taken was former Douglas High standout Chris Balcom-Miller, who was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 35th round. Balcom, a right-handed pitcher, played for West Valley (Calif.) Community College this past season. He was a sophomore standout for the Tigers in 2005.