The 2019 WVU Baseball team, arguably the best baseball team ever assembled at West Virginia University, has jolted the program to heights never seen before. The 2019 MLB Draft topped off a season Mountaineer fans won’t soon forget. A program record eight players were selected during the draft which lasted from Monday, June 3rd until Wednesday, June 5th.
WVU’s eight players selected was tied for 2nd most with Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Conference only behind TCU which had 9 players picked. The Big 12 had a total of 48 players selected in the draft, which is most since 56 were selected in the 2011 draft. The Big 12 Conference also led the nation with 4 players selected in top 11 including WVU’s own Alek Manoah who was selected 11th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays.
The eight players selected from WVU increases Randy Mazey’s total as the Mountaineer Head Coach to 28 players drafted and increases the program total to 98. Let’s take a look at where each Mountaineer ended up:
RHP Alek Manoah – 1st Round, 11th Overall, Toronto Blue Jays
This legendary Mountaineer cemented himself as one of the greatest baseball players to ever sport the gold and blue this season. In his junior campaign, Manoah went 9-4 with a 2.08 ERA and finished with a program record 144 strikeouts. Manoah was the second pitcher drafted behind TCU’s Nick Lodolo who was selected eighth overall by the Cincinnati Reds. The Blue Jays last selected a pitcher in the 1st round in 2017 when they selected RHP Nate Pearson from the College of Central Florida with the 28th pick. Expect Manoah to start his pro career in either the Rookie League playing for the Bluefield Blue Jays or the Class A Short Season League playing for the Vancouver Canadians. Due to his high workload this season, I expect the Blue Jays organization to rest him most of this summer.
C/3B Ivan Gonzalez – 8th Round, 230th Overall, Chicago White Sox
After a stellar performance in the NCAA Regional this past weekend, Mountaineer catcher Ivan “Pudge” Gonzalez was selected on day two of draft by the Chicago White Sox. Gonzalez finished his senior season batting .294 with 31 RBI’s and 3 homeruns. The first of four catchers selected by the White Sox, expect “Pudge” to start his pro career for one of the two Chicago White Sox Rookie League teams, Great Falls Voyagers or the Arizona League White Sox.
LHP Nick Snyder – 11th Round, 332nd Overall, Arizona Diamondbacks
The second Mountaineer pitcher selected in the draft, Nick Snyder was selected in the 11th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. In a season highlighted by being one out away from pitching a no hitter on April 30th against Marshall, Snyder finished with a 9-1 record accumulating 103 strikeouts and a 2.65 ERA while sitting 7th in the country with in strikeouts per inning with 13.63. Possible landing spots for Snyder include the Missoula Osprey and the Arizona League Diamondbacks, the Arizona Diamondbacks two Rookie League teams.
RHP Kade Strowd – 12th Round, 348th Overall, Baltimore Orioles
The third of an impressive four Mountaineer pitchers selected in the draft is right handed pitcher Kade Strowd who was selected by the Baltimore Orioles. Strowd finished his junior season with a 5-6 record, 87 strikeouts, and a 4.73 ERA. After announcing via Instagram that he will sign with the Orioles, expect Strowd to end up on the Rookie League Gulf Coast League Orioles or the Class A Short Season Aberdeen IronBirds.
OF Brandon White – 17th Round, 511th Overall, Los Angeles Angels
Mountaineer center fielder Brandon White heard his name called on day three of the draft after being selected in the 17th round by the Los Angeles Angels. White finished his junior season with batting .272 with 53 hits and 26 stolen bases, which is the 6th most in WVU history. If Brandon White decides to forgo his senior season, expect him to end up on either of the two Angels Rookie League teams (Orem Owlz or Arizona League Angels).
OF Darius Hill – 20th Round, 612th Overall, Chicago Cubs
After one of the most impressive careers in Mountaineer Baseball history, Darius Hill was selected in the 20th round of the draft by the Chicago Cubs. Hill finished his senior season starting all 60 games while batting .315 with 34 extra base hits, including 25 doubles which was 4th best in the country. Once signed, expect Darius Hill to end up on either of the Cubs two Arizona Rookie League teams.
C Chase Illig – 29th Round, 885th Overall, New York Yankees
After missing the whole 2019 season due to injury, Bluefield, West Virginia native Chase Illig was selected in the 29th round by the New York Yankees. In is WVU career, Illig has played in 80 games and has a .223 career batting average. If Illig elects to turn pro, expect him to end up on one of the three Yankees Rookie League teams, the Pulaski Yankees, the Golf Coast League Yankees, or the East Gulf Coast League Yankees.
RHP Sam Kessler – 34th Round, 1012th Overall, Detroit Tigers
The final of four WVU pitchers selected in the 2019 MLB draft was relief pitcher Sam Kessler who was selected in the 34th round by the Detroit Tigers. Kessler finished his junior season with a 4-3 record and gave up just 13 earned runs. Kessler also ranked 3rd in the Big 12 with 8 saves in 24 relief appearances. If Kessler elects to turn pro, expect him to end up on either the Golf Coast League Tigers East or West squads, the Tiger two Rookie League teams.