Anxious to launch their professional baseball careers, four former Western Nevada College players have signed contracts with Major League Baseball teams, less than two weeks after being drafted.
Infielder Taylor Smart signed with the Seattle Mariners on June 11, pitcher Andrew Woeck came to terms with the Tampa Bay Rays on June 12, pitcher Brandon Show officially agreed with the Boston Red Sox on Sunday and pitcher Luke Eubank signed with the Cleveland Indians on Monday, according to Western Nevada College baseball coach D.J. Whittemore.
â€œSince I was a little kid Iâ€™ve wanted to be a big league baseball player,â€ Show said. â€œThis is the first step in reaching that dream. Itâ€™s all about working hard now that Iâ€™m here, and doing what I can to climb the ladder in the minors.â€
All four players were selected on the third day of the MLB draft on June 7 along with pitcher/outfielder Conor Harber, who was taken by Rays in the 40th round.
In the nine-year history of WNCâ€™s baseball program, 22 players have signed deals with MLB teams, including 11 since June 2011.
â€œSo many young players grow up with this dream of playing professionally,â€ Whittemore said. â€œFor these four Wildcats to now be living that dream, it is just very rewarding.
â€œIncredible amounts of work go into making this day of signing a pro contract a reality. We are very proud of them, and we look for good things out of their careers.â€
Last weekend, Smart, who was selected in the 26th round by the Mariners, started his minor league career for the Everett Aquasox in Everett, Wash. Smart has appeared in four games for the Aquasox thus far and has already connected for his first hit as a professional.
Smart grew up in Maple Valley, Wash., rooting for the Mariners and now plays pro ball less than an hour away. Smart hit .292 in his final season for the Tennessee Volunteers this spring after producing two all-Region 18 seasons at WNC in 2011-12.
Show, who had one year of eligibility remaining at the University of San Diego, has reported to Bostonâ€™s Single-A affiliate, Lowell. The defending World Series champions selected the lanky right-hander in the 38th round.
â€œMy thing was, my dream was never to be a Division I baseball player; my dream was always to be a pro baseball player,â€ Show said.
Show, however, said that his contract includes a sum of money that will help him finish his communications degree at USD.
Lowellâ€™s coaches plan to bring Show along slowly since he just completed a full season of college baseball.
â€œThey donâ€™t want to overdo us,â€ said Show, who threw his first bullpen session on Wednesday. â€œThey want all of the new pitchers to learn the routine and get used to being in the minor leagues a little bit before we play in a game.â€
In 16 relief appearances and one start for San Diego in 2014, Show compiled a 1-0 record. During the 2012-13 seasons at WNC, Show posted a 4-1 record.
Woeck is recovering from Tommy John surgery to his right elbow. The 2011-12 WNC pitcher put up impressive numbers during his two seasons with the North Carolina State Wolf Pack. He was 3-1 with a 2.17 earned run average during an abbreviated senior season after posting a 6-1 record and 3.09 ERA as a junior.
He was chosen in the 31st round by the Rays and was pleased that he wouldnâ€™t need to hurry his recovery to catch on with a major league team.
â€œWith the fact that I wonâ€™t be trying out for teams and pursuing a free-agent contract, it gives me the ability to slow down and make sure Iâ€™m at 100 percent,â€ he said.
The Indians drafted Eubank, who played for WNC in 2013, in the 15th round after he dazzled for Oxnard College in 2014. Eubank was 12-1 with a 0.94 ERA for Oxnard and was tabbed as the California Community College Athletic Association pitcher of the year.
Harber, a two-way player, is expected to honor his commitment to the University of Oregon. He was unbeaten on the mound for the Wildcats last season and also led the team with a .331 batting average.
Woeck, Eubank and Show raise WNCâ€™s total number of pitchers signed by MLB teams to 17. Pitchers Dylan Baker and Tim Peterson were the last Wildcats players to sign pro contracts in 2012. Other WNC players to sign since 2011 are Kevin Taylor (Dodgers), Kramer Champlin (Blue Jays), Jerome Pena (Orioles), James Nygren (Marlins) and Logan Odom (Angels).