June 8, 2011

In total, seven Wildcat alums chosen in the 2011 Draft

MLB Draft Day 3: More WNC Alums Selected

In the final day of the Major League Baseball draft, four more former Wildcats were chosen by professional baseball teams. In total, seven WNC alums were selected, the largest crop of players drafted in a single draft year in WNC history. In the past six years, 25 Wildcats have been drafted to play for the major leagues, and this year, Mason Tobin, a former WNC pitcher, became the first former Wildcat to reach it to the big leagues.

Coach DJ Whittemore credits the program's success on the hard work of his assistant coaches and players, saying "Our strength over the years has been player development and it is the assistant coaches who work so hard and spend so many hours with the players, honing their craft. Our players have bought into the philosophies of the program and worked relentlessly to be their best."

Kramer Champlin (2009-2010) was drafted in the 33rd round by the Toronto Blue Jays. Champlin spent two years pitching for the Wildcats. He was the Scenic West Conference pitcher of the year in 2009 and 2010, and left the program tied for the all-time wins record (19) and the all-time saves leader (8). Champlin led the Wildcats to 91 victories in two seasons, including a third place finish at the JUCO world series in 2009. Im 2011, he pitched for Arizona State University, where he led the team in innings pitched (over 110) and victories earned (9). For his outstanding season he earned Pac-10 honorable mention honors.

Whittemore touted Champlin as the best pitcher to come through the WNC program, saying, "No offense to Cole Rohrbough, Justin Garcia, Stephen Sauer, Mason Tobin or any of the other great pitchers to come through our program in the last six seasons, but Kramer was the best pitcher to come through our program. He came to WNC without a D-I offer and turned himself into the top pitcher on one of the best teams in the country. He has proven everyone wrong, and I believe he will continue to do so for a long time to come. His confidence and ability to perform in the clutch allowed our team to excel at a national level, and we are proud to call him a former player and a graduate of WNC."

James Nygren (2007) was drafted in the 33rd round by the Florida Marlins. Nygren came to WNC from Klamath Falls, Ore., entering the fall throwing 86 mph and leaving throwing 95 mph.

Whittemore says, "Although James only spent half a year on our team, he made the absolute most of his time earning praise and recognition from professional scouts as well as a scholarship from national champions Oregon State University. The combination of his talent, hard work and drive with the expertise of our pitching coaches Kevin Edwards and Dennis Banks vaulted James from an unhearlded high school senior to Oregon State's second leading pitcher by victories and a game one starter in last weekend's regional".

Kevin Taylor (2010-2011) was drafted in the 36th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Taylor played two seasons for the Wildcats and was named Region XVIII first team in 2010. Taylor is signed to play with Arizona State University next season.

Whittemore says, "Kevin's talent is undeniable and hopefully he will get a chance to make a living doing what he was born to do - hit!"

Jerome Pena (2008-2009) was drafted in the 38th round by the Baltimore Orioles. Pena played the last two seasons for Texas Christian University where he was twice named Mountain West Conference first team at second base. Pena also played in the College World Series with Horned Frogs where he hit two home runs. He was a teammate of Champlin's and Odom's on the 2009 WNC team that played in Grand Junction for the JUCO World Series.

Whittemore says, "Jerome is one of the greatest success stories of WNC. Not only did he earn his degree from Western after two seasons, but he did so with a GPA well over a 3.0. He earned a scholarship to one of the nation's top D-I programs, led them to the world series and now will have a chance to play professionally. We couldn't be happier for him or prouder of him. He accomplished all of those things through sheer determination and hard work. He is a true Wildcat."

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