Local MLB draftees sizzling this summer
Three former Monroe County high school baseball standouts who were drafted by Major League Baseball teams are showcasing their talents at various levels this summer.
Minor league pitcher Josh Fleming, 22, of Columbia, picked up his first victory as a member of the Class A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Florida State League on July 31.
Fleming allowed just one earned run over six innings with five strikeouts and a walk in the win over the Florida Fire Frogs.
The 6-foot-2 lefty starter was promoted from the Class A Bowling Green Hot Rods after going 5-1 with a 1.20 ERA earlier this season. He is 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA with Charlotte.
The 2014 Columbia High School graduate was selected last year in the fifth round of the MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays following a dominant season on the mound at NCAA Division III Webster University in St. Louis.
Fellow minor leaguer Zach Neff, a 2014 Gibault Catholic High School graduate who pitched for Mississippi State University in the College World Series this past spring, is enjoying success with the Elizabethton Twins in the advanced rookie league.
Neff, 22, was selected in the 31st round of the MLB draft by the Minnesota Twins in June. The 6-foot-1 lefty reliever is currently 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA and four saves and 20 strikeouts in 10 games totaling 15-plus innings pitched for Elizabethton.
Another local baseball standout, 2016 Waterloo High School graduate Jordan McFarland, had a hot-hitting summer in the California Collegiate League.
McFarland, who was selected in the 36th round of the MLB draft by the Washington Nationals in 2016 but opted instead to attend the University of Arkansas, played with the Conejo Oaks of the CCL wooden bat league this summer.
In 17 games with Conejo, the 6-foot-3 right-handed slugger hit .387 with 18 RBIs, a home run and six doubles.
He had eight hits in three playoff games to help lead Conejo to the championship game. In the CCL title game, McFarland went 4-for-5 with two RBIs in a win over the Orange County Riptide, giving Conejo its first league crown.
McFarland, who will return to Arkansas for his junior season, was named to the CCL All-Star Team and won postseason MVP honors for his sizzling playoff performance at the plate.