Major Leagues harvest baseball talent from Silver State

Jaylon McLaughlin

Nevada’s speedy outfielder and leading hitter Jaylon McLaughlin was picked by the Chicago Cubs.
Tim Nwchukwu / NCAA

The state of Nevada took a big-league swing this week.

Three players from the University of Nevada, Reno and two more from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas were drafted to the Major Leagues in the 2019 MLB Draft featuring 40 rounds and more than 1,215 selections.

High school preps from the Reno area made a splash. Bishop Manogue shortstop Joshua Rolling was a 39th round selection — 1,177th overall —  by the Atlanta Braves. 

Grant Ford photo by John Byrne

Nevada reliever Grant Ford was selected in the fifth round — 154th overall — by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday, June 4. It was the highest selection by a Wolf Pack baseball player since Reno Aces right-hander Braden Shipley went 15th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Triple-A Reno Aces took Game 2 with the Nashville Sounds on Wednesday with a 3-2 victory at Greater Nevada Field.

In three seasons, Ford accumulated a 6.07 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 135 innings. The right-hander had a 5-1 record and 2.74 ERA with a career-high 51 strikeouts in 45.2 innings of work with the Pack this season.

Ford’s fastball touched 96 mph to complement a hard-breaking slider. The San Jose, California native earned Second-Team All-Mountain West Conference honors and was named Mountain West Pitcher of the Week following Nevada’s sweep over the San Jose State to get into the Mountain West Tournament.

Junior pitcher Ryan Anderson was picked 375th overall in the 12th round by the New York Yankees. The 6-foot-6 lefty tossed a team-high 70.2 innings to go along with a 4.84 ERA and 64 strikeouts with Nevada this season.

The Sparks, Nevada native had 122 strikeouts and an 8-7 record in three seasons with the Pack. Anderson’s career-high 11 strikeouts against Long Beach State on Feb. 22 are the third-most in school history since 2000. He was named Mountain West Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 25.

Anderson pounds the strike zone with a low-to-mid 90s fastball, but his off-speed changeup keeps opposing teams chasing with deceptive movement at the hands. The lanky southpaw has also developed a sweeping, mid-80s slider that breaks away from left-handed batters and forces ground balls.

“My fastball-changeup combination has been working all season,” he told this reporter with the Nevada Sagebrush earlier this season. “If I land my slider and it’s clicking, it really keeps the batters off guard. I have confidence throwing any of the three in whatever count, so it’s taking my game to a new level.”

Nevada outfielder Jaylon McLaughlin was picked in the 37th round and 1,122nd overall by the Chicago Cubs. He batted a team-high .339 with 61 hits, 25 stolen bases and 24 RBIs, which tripled his career high.

In three seasons with the Wolf Pack, McLaughlin slashed .289 with 101 hits, 10 doubles, five triples and four homers. A switch-hitter, McLaughlin’s smooth swing translates to base hits down the first and third base lines. His blazing speed on the basepaths will stretch routine singles into doubles.

“Baseball is a momentum game,” McLaughlin said.  “So I just try to capitalize on any situation whenever I can to help my guys. So If that means going for extra bases or stealing a bag myself, that’s what I’m gonna do.”

The Wolf Pack’s three drafted players are the most it has had since 2016 when Miles Mastrobuoni, Trenton Brooks and Sam Held were picked.

Ryan Anderson

Wolf Pack pitcher Ryan Anderson
Photo by John Byrne

UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott headlined all Nevada draftees with the 14th overall selection by the Philadelphia Phillies. He was the highest selection from UNLV since third baseman Matt Williams went third overall in the 1986 MLB Draft.

Stott batted .356 with 10 homers, 20 doubles and 36 RBIs with the Rebels this season. He’s often drawn comparisons to San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. His crisp glove-to-hand transfer bodes well to his smooth left-handed swing at the plate.

Rebels right fielder Max Smith was drafted in the 31st round — 929th overall — by the Minnesota Twins. Smith hit .292 with 10 home runs and a team-high 49 RBIs this season.

The No. 1 overall pick Oregon State’s strong-armed catcher Adley Rutschman made an appearance at Don Weir Field at Peccole Park against Nevada on April 22-23. Rutschman joins the Baltimore Orioles organization.

Michael Smyth / Tahoe Onstage

Adley Rutschman

A switch-hitting power hitter, Rutschman went 5-for-11 with a double and two RBIs in the two-game series. The switch-hitting backstop was a threat at and behind the plate.

The junior catcher showed the ability to hit the ball to all sides on April 22. He legged out a double off a one-hopper to left field in the third inning. He laced a pair singles to right field from the left side in his two next at-bats.

Reno’s big-league club, the Arizona Diamondbacks, had 15 picks over the course of the draft and seven of the top 75 selections.

Outfielder Corbin Carroll was the 16th overall selection out of Lakeside High School in Seattle, Washington. Carroll hit .450 with 22 homers and 101 RBIs in his high school career.

Arizona followed with a pair of prep arms with their next two selections. Left-hander Blake Walston was taken No. 26 overall out of New Hanover High School located in North Carolina. Walston went 11-0 with a 0.23 ERA and 120 punchouts.

The Dbacks selected right-hander Brennan Malone No. 33 overall out of IMG Academy in Florida. Malone’s fastball touches 97 mph to go along with a 12-6 curveball that can land for strikes. His athletic 6-foot-5 frame can add even more velocity to a solid three-pitch mix for an 18-year-old.

With plenty of young talent, several Dbacks’ draftees may be sporting an Aces jersey in the near future.

Leyba’s three-run homer lifts Aces to victory

Domingo Leyba went 2-for-4 with a three-run blast in the fourth to clinch the Aces’ win. Reno had just four hits. Travis Snider and Abraham Almonte each doubled

The Aces have won back-to-back games.

Alex Young recorded his third win of the season. The southpaw tossed five innings, giving up one earned run on five hits with five strikeouts. Recently optioned back to Reno, Jimmie Sherfy closed the door in the ninth for his team-high eighth save.

Nashville reliever Pedro Payano was tagged with the loss. Payano surrendered three runs on three hits with five walks and eight strikeouts in four innings.

The Sounds jumped out to a 1-0 lead off a solo homer from Eli White in the first. Reno responded with three runs in the fourth inning. Nashville tacked on another run in the sixth.

Aces’ potent offense leads professional baseball: Since May 11, the Aces’ 63 home runs, 182 runs, 180 RBIs and 519 total bases lead all of professional baseball. They have homered in every game since May 11 and their 59 doubles are the third-most in baseball. Reno has homered in a franchise-record 24 consecutive games.

Notes: On this day in 1935, Babe Ruth ended his Major League playing career after 22 seasons. … The Aces are 15-15 when scoring first this season. …. Reno is 13-18 in May and are 5-3 on Wednesday.

On Deck: Reno, 25-34, faces Nashville for the third and final game of the series on Thursday. Anthony Vasquez (3-3) is expected to take the hill for the Aces. Phillips Valdez (1-6) is the probable starting pitcher for the Sounds.

— Isaiah Burrows

About Isaiah Burrows

Tahoe Onstage sportswriter Isaiah Burrows also is a general assignment reporter for CarsonNow.org, an online news source in Carson City. He is a journalism major at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he writes sports for the Sagebrush student newspaper. He is the Reno Aces beat writer for Tahoe Onstage.

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