McLennan Community College’s pipeline into professional baseball continues to bubble over with riches.
Five players from MCC’s 2017 College World Series qualifying-team were taken on the third and final day of the Major League Draft on Wednesday. Additionally, the Highlanders had two incoming signees selected during the three-day draft.
“I’m really encouraged, it’s a really neat deal,” MCC coach Mitch Thompson said. “Obviously Josh Breaux has a major decision in front of him. But the good thing is, that all of them but Josh have already signed with other schools and so they have some options.”
MCC sophomore catcher Nic Motley was the first player with local ties to get a draft call, as the Colorado Rockies picked Motley in the 14th round. He hit .330 with 17 home runs and 63 RBIs for the Highlanders in 2017.
The other Highlanders who will have a chance to pursue their professional dreams were centerfielder Chris Roller, who went to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 30th round, outfielder Joe Breaux (36th round, Philadelphia Phillies), catcher Josh Breaux (36th round, Houston Astros) and outfielder Cole Haring (37th round, Baltimore Orioles).
MCC’s two high school signees who were drafted were outfielder Lamar Sparks of Houston Seven Lakes, a fifth-round pick of the Orioles, and first baseman Michael Cooper of Ridge Point, who was snagged in the 33rd round by the Cleveland Indians.
Thompson said that Sparks is a five-tool talent and will sign with the Orioles, but he was hoping to still get Cooper to come to Waco.
“Michael has a real high ceiling, and he would definitely help us,” Thompson said. “I think we could help him hopefully move up the ranks in the draft for next year.”
Two Baylor players will have decisions to make after their names popped up on the draft board on MLB Network. The Miami Marlins picked junior pitcher Montana Parsons in the 24th round, while the Washington Nationals took fourth-year junior outfielder Kameron Esthay two rounds later.
Both players have a season of college eligibility remaining, so they could return to the Bears if they so choose. They’ll have until 4 p.m. on July 7 to either sign with their pro clubs or decide to return to Baylor.
Coming into the draft, Baylor coach Steve Rodriguez knew that Parsons would be highly coveted. The 6-foot-3 right-hander displayed a crisp fastball and a nasty changeup on his way to a 5-4 record and 3.06 ERA in his first year with the Bears.
Esthay, meanwhile, hit .283 with 11 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and 35 RBIs in his third season in Baylor’s starting outfield. He redshirted the 2014 season.
Baylor also had two signees get drafted – MCC’s Haring and San Antonio O’Connor’s Weston Smith, a left-handed pitcher who was snapped up by the Los Angeles Angels in round 34.
The draft always features a few surprises as well. Forty rounds passed and no big-league club took a shot at BU first baseman Aaron Dodson, who was coming off a career year but also had several job opportunities waiting for him in his hometown of Houston.
MCC’s Josh Breaux was ranked as the No. 26 prospect from the state of Texas by Baseball America, but the brisk-batting slugger lasted until the Astros popped the top on him in the 36th round.
“I’ll say this with the draft, it’s not always about a player’s ability as it is a player’s sign-ability,” MCC’s Thompson said. “We had some players who I thought would get drafted way earlier than they did and one (Brendan Venter) who didn’t get drafted at all. But it’s all about whether they’ll think you’ll sign.”
If the Astros meet Breaux’s asking price, then it’s off to the minor leagues for the freshman out of Tomball. If not, he’ll take his hacks in the Cape Cod League – a prestigious summer college league – and then come back to the Highlanders for another go-round.
“It’s a really neat deal for Josh, because I think he’s set himself up for a big payday, whether now or down the road,” Thompson said. “If the Astros meet his price, that’s good for him and really good for the Astros, I think. If not, then he’ll come back to MCC and hopefully we continue to develop him and help him reach that goal.”