June 20, 2012

Where Are They Now?

24 Wildcats Have Been Drafted in Seven Years

With the 2012 Major League Baseball first-year player draft now completed, the Western Nevada College baseball program can fondly look back on a successful pattern of its student athletes being drafted. Since the baseball program launched in 2006, 24 Wildcats have been drafted.

One of the original Wildcats from the 2006 team has already realized his dream of reaching the big leagues. Mason Tobin made his Major League debut for the Texas Rangers on April 2, 2011, but elbow injuries have slowed the promising pitcher's big-league career.

WNC Baseball Coach D.J. Whittemore ticked off an impressive list of other successful Wildcats alumni. "(Cole) Rohrbough signed for essentially a first-round bonus, (Justin) Garcia made it to AAA, (Stephen) Sauer was a ninth-round sign and pitched in the rotation for the No. 1 team in the country at ASU and included other standouts like draft pick Josh Brink, draft-and-sign T.J. Wohlever and all-time appearances leader Dan Grubbs.”

Whittemore said producing pro-caliber players is a product of recruiting talent, developing that talent, playing a competitive schedule where that talent can be recognized, putting together great teams with players who demonstratie incredible drive, determination and work ethic.

Five players from Whittemore's inaugural team signed pro contracts, and a record seven Wildcats were selected in the 2011 MLB draft.

Here is a look at WNC alums who have been drafted, and how their careers are progressing:

DYLAN BAKER, selected by the Cleveland Indians with a WNC record fifth-round pick in the recent 2012 draft. In his one season at Western Nevada, Baker put together an unforgettable season, winning all 13 of his games and striking out 126 hitters in 84 2/3 innings. The JUCO All-American and JUCO World Series all-tournament team member finished with a 1.91 earned run average.

TIM PETERSON, chosen by the New York Mets in the 20th round of the 2012 draft. A 12-game winner for WNC in 2010-2011, Peterson was taken by the Mets after his first season with the Kentucky Wildcats. The 6-foot-2 right-hander was 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in 26 innings for Kentucky.

CHRIS GARRISON, drafted by Chicago Cubs in the 28th round in 2011 and 26th-round choice by Rockies in 2008. The 2011 Region XVIII Relief Pitcher of the Year for WNC declined both draft options and has continued his college career at Kentucky. He had a 6.75 ERA in four appearances for Kentucky this spring. In 2011 with WNC, Garrison was 8-4 with a 2.64 ERA and earned Region 18 first-team honors.

KEVIN TAYLOR, drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 36th round in 2011. The second baseman only logged five at-bats without a hit for the Dodgers in Arizona League last year. However, Taylor has 168 at-bats and is hitting .241 for the Great Lakes Loons in Class A Midwest League this spring. Taylor has two homers, five doubles and a .281 on-base average. He was a 2010 Region XVIII first-team third baseman at WNC.

KRAMER CHAMPLIN, drafted in the 33rd round by the Blue Jays in 2011 after initially being taken by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 37th round in 2008. Champlin has won three of four decisions this spring while compiling a 4.03 ERA in 10 appearances for the Class A Lansing Lugnuts. He has 22 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings. In 2011, Champlin had one appearance in the Gulf Coast League before moving on to the Vancouver Canadians of Northwest League, where he compiled an 0-2 record with a 4.91 ERA in seven games.

JEROME PENA, drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 38th round in 2011 after being selected in the 40th round by the New York Mets in 2009. The former WNC infielder and TCU second baseman hit .266 with eight doubles and 21 RBI and produced a .364 on-base average in the Gulf Coast League in 2011. Pena was the 2010 Region 18 pitcher of the year.

KYLE CONWELL, a 22nd-round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011. In his one season at WNC, Conwell hit .330 with six round-trippers and was a second-team all-Scenic West honoree. Conwell elected to play at Abilene Christian University and the junior outfielder hit .292 with 11 doubles, three homers and 26 RBI this spring.

LOGAN ODOM, an eighth-round selection by the Anaheim Angels in 2011. Odom, a position player at North Medford HS, Ore., was converted to a pitcher at WNC. He helped the Wildcats to third-place finish at 2009 JUCO World Series before moving on to USC. The 6-6 right-hander had a 3.96 ERA during his senior season at USC, then pitched for the Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League in 2011, posting a 3-2 record, 5.44 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 12 starts and 51 1/3 innings. This spring, Odom has an 0-3 won-loss record and 6.11 ERA while striking out 26 and walking 26 in 28 innings for the Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels.

JAMES NYGREN, selected by the Florida Marlins with a 33rd-round pick in 2011. Nygren, who pitched at Oregon State after his 2008 season at WNC, was 4-1 with a 1.36 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 19 games in the Gulf Coast League in 2011. The right-handed pitcher has a 2-1 record and 4.50 ERA for Greensboro Grasshoppers of the Class A South Atlantic League this spring. Nygren has 17 strikeouts in 21 appearances.

DYLLON NUERNBERG, drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 23rd round in 2010. Nuernberg pitched for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals in 2010, making 14 appearances and compiling a 0-0 record with 5.62 ERA and 20 strikeouts. In his 2011 season with Johnson City of Appalachian League, he was 2-2 with a 5.23 ERA in 21 appearances, registering 33 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings. Nuernberg is scheduled to return to Johnson City this season.

LANCE RAY, one of the most highly-drafted players ever out of WNC, was taken in the eighth round by the Minnesota Twins in 2010. He started his pro career with the Elizabethton Twins of the Appalachian League, then moved up to the Class A Beloit Snappers of the Midwest League. He hit .314 for Elizabethton in 17 games, then was promoted to Beloit for remainder of 2010 season, where he hit .279 in 47 games with 14 doubles and three homers. Last year, he hit .253 with 16 homers, 34 doubles and 74 RBI in 132 games for Beloit. The WNC Region 18 first-team outfielder in 2009 is playing advanced Class A ball for the Twins in 2012 and has seven homers, 12 doubles and 29 RBI in 54 games for the Fort Myers Miracle.

COLBY SOKOL, selected in the 44th round by the Minnesota Twins in 2008 but decided to play at Corban University. Sokol was third among Corban hitters with a .345 average during his senior season. The 2008 WNC team member also belted seven homers, 15 doubles and a triple and knocked in a team-best 52 runs for the Salem, Ore. school. Corban advanced to the NAIA West Regionals, and its 28 wins were the second-most in program history.

JOSH MOODY, taken by the Atlanta Braves in the 29th round of the 2008 draft but instead elected to pitch for Western Nevada. During his two seasons as a Wildcat, Moody posted a 14-4 record and one save, fanning 110 batters. The two-time All-Region 18 second-teamer went on to pitch for the Arizona State Sun Devils, appearing in five games as a senior and as a junior went 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA.

STEPHEN SAUER, the Chicago White Sox chose Sauer in the 10th round in 2008, a year after the Tampa Bay Rays used a 31st-round pick on him. In four professional seasons, Sauer was 3-2 with 3.41 ERA for Great Falls in Pioneer League in 2008, 6-5 and a 3.36 ERA in 22 starts for Kannapolis in 2009, 8-10 with 4.89 ERA in 26 starts for Winston-Salem of Carolina League in 2010. In 2011, Sauer was 1-0 with 3.27 ERA for Bristol of the Appalachian League and 1-0 with 4.50 ERA for high-level Class A Winston-Salem. The 2007 second-team all-conference pitcher for WNC is throwing for the Windy City ThunderBolts of the Frontier Independent League this year. He is 3-1 with a 2.59 ERA in seven games.

KYLE FARRELL, drafted in the ninth round by the Atlanta Braves in 2008. The 2008 WNC pitcher of the year was 0-5 with a 4.58 ERA for the Gulf Coast League Braves and 0-3 with a 6.92 ERA for same club in 2009. In 2010, Farrell made 10 starts for Danville of Appalachian League and posted a 5-3 record and 4.04 ERA.

JOSE BARAJAS, the 26th-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2008. He was 1-0 with a 2.75 ERA for Bluefield of Appalachian League and 0-0 with 6.75 ERA for high-level Class A Frederick in 2008. In 2009, Barajas was 3-3 with a 4.32 ERA in 21 appearances for Aberdeen of New York-Pennsylvania League and 1-2 with a 5.94 ERA in 19 games for same team in 2010. The second-team all-conference pitcher for Wildcats in 2008 and the team's relief ace award winner is no longer with the Orioles.

JUSTIN GARCIA, drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 25th round in 2007 and one of the most active pro players to come out of WNC. In his six minor league seasons, Garcia rose to the AAA level for part of the 2010 season, then pitched for Class AA Amarillo in 2011 after being released, registering a 9-5 record and 4.66 ERA in 20 starts. Garcia pitched for WNC in 2006-07 and is the only Wildcat to pitch at the Class AAA level. In 2007, Garcia was 1-1 with 2.84 ERA for Princeton of the Appalachian League and 0-0 with 2.25 ERA for Hudson Valley of New York-Pennsylvania League. In 2008, Garcia went 3-5 with a 2.49 ERA for Class A Columbus, then 7-5 with a 4.66 ERA for Charlotte of the high Class A Florida League. He started at Charlotte in 2010 before making it all the way to AAA Durham that same season. Tobin was 0-0 with a 2.63 ERA for Charlotte, 3-3 with a 5.20 ERA for Montgomery in the Class AA Southern League before going 0-0 with a 5.79 ERA at Durham. Garcia has compiled a 3.69 ERA in 121 appearances in his five full seasons in the minor leagues, including only 56 walks and 227 strikeouts in 227 career innings. The 2006 Wildcat pitcher of the year is 1-0 with a 4.62 ERA for Amarillo this season.

TJ WOHLEVER, a 32nd-round selection by the Atlanta Braves in 2007. After providing WNC with a 2-0 record and 2.33 ERA in 2007, Wohlever went 0-2 with a 12.00 ERA in seven games for the Braves' Gulf Coast League team in 2007. After a 1-0 record and 2.53 ERA in the same league in 2008, Wohlever was released by the Braves. Wohlever, who underwent labrum surgery in 2010, resurfaced with the Class AA independent Gary South Shore Railcats last season and was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in three appearances. He is back with Gary this season and is off to a fast start, working out of the bullpen. He is 1-0 with a 0.93 ERA in 10 appearances.

MASON TOBIN, a three-time draft selection. The Atlanta Braves first selected Tobin in the 15th round in 2005 and again in 2006 with a 45th-round pick before the Anaheim Angels took him in the 16th round in 2007. Tobin bounced back from Tommy John surgery in 2009 to make his Major League debut on April 2, 2011, for the Texas Rangers. Tobin appeared in 25 professional games in the Angels' organization before the Chicago Cubs took him on Dec. 9, 2010, in the Rule 5 Draft in 2010. The Cubs traded Tobin the very same day to the Texas Rangers for cash considerations. During his quick ascent through the minors, Tobin was 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 13 starts for the Orem Owlz in 2007 and 2-3 with a 3.13 ERA for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2008. Tobin only made three relief appearances for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in 2009 as Tommy John surgery shortened his season and kept him off the hill in 2010 as well.

ERIC MAUPIN, drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 48th round in 2007. Spent his 2008 season at Washington State University before transferring to Western Nevada for the 2009-2010 campaigns. WNC's 2010 MVP went on to finish his college career at New Mexico Highlands. In his final season, Maupin hit .296 in 142 at-bats, hitting four homers and 12 doubles while driving in 26 runs. He also won two of his three decisions on the mound.

COLE ROHRBOUGH, taken in the 22nd round by the Atlanta Braves. Beginning his sixth year in the minors, WNC's 2007 JUCO World Series all-tournament selection has advanced to high Class A. WNC's 2007 pitcher of the year has a minor league career record of 16-19 along with a 4.55 ERA. Rohrbough has pitched for Danville in the Appalachian League, Rome of the South Atlantic League, Myrtle Beach of the Carolina League and the Braves' Gulf Coast League team. Rohrbough's best season came in 2007 when he split time between the Gulf Coast League and South Atlantic League, compiling a 5-2 record and 1.17 ERA in 61 1/3 innings. In his third stint with Rome this spring, Rohrbough is 1-0 with a 5.23 ERA in 10 1/3 innings.

JOSH BRINK, selected in the 28th round by the Minnesota Twins in 2005. The right-hander opted to attend Western Nevada and pitched on the Wildcats' first two teams, registering a 3-2 mark and 2.72 ERA in his first season and a 3-5 record and 4.69 ERA in 2007. He went on to pitch at the University of British Columbia and now is a pitching coach in the British Columbia Premier Baseball League.

AARON GREER, chosen in the 35th round by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2005. A member of WNC's first team, Greer later received a scholarship to play at Concordia University.

TYSON JAQUEZ, picked by the Detroit Tigers in the 45th round in 2005. After playing for WNC, Jaquez went on to play for the University of Nevada and in Germany.

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