Four WNCC pitchers drafted or signed
June 8, 2007
The Western Nevada Community College baseball team continued to reach rarified air when it came to the second day of the Major League draft on Friday.
After all was said and done when the draft’s final 45 of 50 rounds were completed on Friday, the Wildcats had four pitchers either drafted or signed. That ranks right up there with any elite program in the country, including the top four-year programs.
Justin Garcia, Stephen Sauer and T.J. Wohlever were all taken on Friday. They join Cole Rohrbough, who was signed by the Atlanta Braves after he was taken last year as a draft and follow.
Right behind WNCC was the University of Nevada who had three pitchers taken by the Seattle Mariners – Ryan Rodriguez, Matt Renfree and Galena graduate Rod Scurry. In addition, Galena’s Eric Maupin was taken in the 48th round by the Mariners.
Garcia will likely join Rohrbough in pro baseball. The right-handed pitcher was taken in the 25th round by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Garcia has signed with UNLV, but is leaning toward signing with the Devil Rays.
Rohrbough signed with the Braves, receiving a total signing bonus package of $728,000. Rohrbough will report to the Braves’ Advanced Rookie League team in Danville, Va., on Sunday.
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Garcia said he would talk with the Devil Rays on Friday and expected to make a decision on if he’s going to sign with them today.
“I’m going to take a day and make a decision probably tomorrow,” Garcia said on Friday. “I think it’s pretty close to a done deal but not a 100 percent yet.”
Although the Devil Rays drafted Garcia in the 25th round, they’re expected to offer him a signing bonus in the mid-five figures which would be the equivalent of top 20 round money. Plus the Devil Rays are also expected to pay for the remainder of Garcia’s education.
“It’s a pretty sizable bonus for the 25th round,” said WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore on what the Devil Rays should be willing to offer.
“They haven’t offered me anything officially,” Garcia said. “I’m not sure how much they’re going to offer me.”
But the Devil Rays are aware of what Garcia wants. “They know everything,” he said. “They’re a team that’s been talking to me a lot.”
If Garcia signs with the Devil Rays, he would report to their short-season class A team in Hudson Valley in the New York-Penn League, a higher step up than most junior college pitchers who normally are sent to Rookie League.
While he says it’s not a done deal, Garcia sounds like he’s definitely leaning toward going pro. “I’m real excited,” he said. “It’s a dream come true.”
Garcia came to WNCC with an average fastball, but developed into a pitcher who could be drafted. In his last three starts this past season, Garcia was throwing consistently at 88-89 miles an hour and topped at 91. “I can’t believe how far he’s come,” Whittemore said. “He really worked hard this year.”
This past season, Garcia went 11-5 with a 2.73 earned run average. Garcia gave much of the credit of his success to WNCC pitching coaches Kevin Edwards and Dennis Banks. “That’s where I developed a lot,” said Garcia about WNCC. “I got a lot better there.”
Sauer was also taken in the 31st round by the Devil Rays, who apparently believe they at least have a shot at signing him. A ballpark figure of an $80,000-$100,000 signing bonus has been talked about on what it would take to sign Sauer, but the Devil Rays would be hard pressed to come up with that kind of money for a 31st round pick.
Under the new rules this year, the Devil Rays have until August 15 to sign Sauer. “They’re going to try to negotiate with him during the course of the summer,” Whittemore said. “He set a very high minimum.”
Sauer has signed with Arizona State and said that’s where he expects to be. “I’m leaning toward Arizona State unless they want to be crazy in the 31st round,” said Sauer about the Devil Rays. “I think for right now the plan is to go to Arizona State.”
But Sauer said it’s still flattering to be drafted. “It’s awesome,” he said. Sauer, a right-handed pitcher, went 6-4 with a 2.36 E.R.A. this past season.
Wohlever was taken in the 32nd round by the Atlanta Braves. While he said he’s still undecided, there’s a good chance that Wohlever could sign with the Braves.
He said his biggest concern is a signing bonus that includes paying for the rest of his education. Wohlever, a left-handed pitcher, went 2-0 with a 2.33 E.R.A. as a reliever this past season.
Whittemore said having four pitchers signed or drafted reflects well on Edwards and Banks.
“I think our reputation for pitching is strong,” Edwards said. “These kids earned the recognition they got. The community and college are proud of them.”
Rodriguez, a senior, will be heading to professional baseball after being taken in the 17th round. Rodriguez was the Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year this past season.
Renfree is also a senior so he’ll be heading to pro ball as well after being taken in the 24th round. Renfree was an All-WAC first team choice as a reliever this past season.
Scurry just finished his junior year at Nevada, so he has the option of returning to the Wolf Pack for his senior year. He was an all-WAC second team pick this past season after posting a 3-2 record with a 3.89 earned run average in conference.
Galena coach Gary McNamara, who coached Scurry while he was with the Grizzlies, said it’s likely that Scurry will return to Nevada.
“I don’t think there’s any reason for him to leave,” McNamara said. “Whatever’s best for Rod. At least he’s got a good choice. I’m happy for Rod.”
Maupin, a right-handed pitcher who could be a two-way player in college, is also having a growing list of attractive Division I options. It’s likely that Maupin will make a decision after the College World Series in a couple of weeks.
Among the schools who are interested in Maupin are Oregon State and Cal State Fullerton, who are still playing in the NCAA playoffs. Nebraska’s also showing heavy interest in Maupin, McNamara said.
“There’s no question he’s going to be a Division I baseball player,” McNamara said. “i’m happy that he got drafted, but I’m sure he’s going to college.”
Another player with WNCC ties who was drafted on Friday was pitcher Mason Tobin, who was taken in the 16th round by the Anaheim Angels. Tobin pitched for WNCC in 2006 and pitched for Washington’s Everett Community College this past season.
BARNETT SIGNS WITH WNCC
The Wildcats received a boost in its recruiting class for next season when McQueen shortstop Brian Barnett, one of Northern Nevada’s top high school players, signed to play at WNCC. “That was really nice to get a local kid and someone of his caliber,” Whittemore said.
Whittemore said he believes Barnett can “come in and play every game over the next two years.”
With Barnett a possible infield for next season could be Andrew Reid at first, Kevin Schlange at second, Barnett at short and Logan Parsley at third. With the signing of Barnett, Whittemore still has two scholarships to offer in this year’s recruiting class.
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