Zack Thompson reflects on ‘awesome moment’ of UK curtain call
The state of Kentucky was well represented in Tuesday’s rounds of the Major League Baseball Draft, with several players hailing from the commonwealth joining Kentucky’s Zack Thompson and Louisville’s Logan Wyatt, who were both selected on the first day of the draft.
The closest local ties in the draft Tuesday came from pitcher Aaron Ochsenbein of Eastern Kentucky University and Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. Ochsenbein was taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 191st overall pick in the sixth round..
Ochsenbein finished the 2019 season with a 5-2 record with a 0.83 ERA and 10 saves. He is one of only 11 players in the history of the Ohio Valley Conference to finish a season with an ERA of less than 1.00 with more than 50 innings pitched. He was also named to the Collegiate Baseball All-American Team.
While at Dunbar, Ochsenbein posted a 0.63 ERA and 96 strikeouts during his junior season.
The first player with ties to the state to come off the board Tuesday was Louisville pitcher Michael McAvene, who was taken in the third round, 103rd overall, by the Chicago Cubs. McAvene originally hails from Camby, Ind.
McAvene is currently serving a suspension after getting into an argument with an umpire during the Cardinals’ recent NCAA Tournament game against Indiana. He has a 2.67 ERA and a 2-0 record with seven saves this season.
McAvene began his Louisville career as a starting pitcher, transitioning into the bullpen during his freshman year, which was cut short by an injury.
Only two picks later, Western Kentucky outfielder Jake Sanford went to the New York Yankees. Originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, Sanford became the first triple crown winner in the history of Conference USA this past season.
Sanford had only one scholarship offer coming out of high school and opted to walk on at McCook Community College in Nebraska. He transferred to WKU for his junior season and immediately became the Hilltoppers’ best player in a season where he was named to several all-America teams and was honored as the C-USA’s Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year.
Sanford averaged .398 at the plate and hit 22 home runs with 66 RBI.
Later in the third round, 116th overall, Louisville’s Tyler Fitzgerald joined Wyatt as a San Francisco Giants selection. Fitzgerald, originally from Springfield, Ill., was drafted out of high school by the Boston Red Sox in the 30th round.
Fitzgerald becomes the third member of his immediate family to play professional baseball, joining his brother and father, both named Mike, who played for the Cardinals and San Diego Padres, respectively. He is hitting .321 this season with 62 RBI and seven home runs.
Two more Louisville pitchers went in quick succession in the sixth and seventh rounds, with Nick Bennett going to the Milwaukee Brewers at 193 overall and Bryan Hoeing to the Miami Marlins with pick 201.
Bennett has 73 strikeouts this season, to go along with a 4.40 ERA and a 7-3 record. He had previously been selected by the Giants in the 40th round coming out of high school.
Hoeing was also originally selected by the Giants coming out of high school. He boasts a 3-3 record on the season with a 2.70 ERA and 68 strikeouts.
Also drafted Tuesday was Jonathan Embry, a senior catcher from Liberty University who played at the Christian Academy of Louisville. Embry was chosen by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 10th round, No. 308 overall.
The MLB Draft will continue Wednesday with rounds 11-40.