The 2017 Major League Baseball Draft takes place June 12-14, and a few local men may have their names called.
Last year, Waterloo High School slugger Jordan McFarland was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 36th round but opted instead to honor his commitment to Arkansas University. He hit .271 with two home runs and 10 RBIs for the Razorbacks during his recently completed freshman season.
Two local players with success this spring at the college level have a chance to get drafted next week.
Columbia High School graduate Josh Fleming, a 6-foot-1 junior lefthanded starting pitcher at Webster University, greatly improved his draft stock with an amazing spring. Fleming went 8-1 with a Division III-leading 0.68 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 92+ innings at Webster and was named D3baseball.com’s 2017 Central Region Pitcher of the Year. He was also chosen as Pitcher of the Year in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Fleming ranks 211th on Baseball America’s Top 500 list entering draft week.
“Fleming has been shooting up draft boards with a fastball sitting 91-94 that can be thrown well on both sides of the plate,” writes Charlie Meyer of blogprospects.wordpress.com. “Fleming is a guy who I think could go high based upon his limited innings and high upside.”
Gibault Catholic High School graduate Wes Degener, a 6-foot-3 junior outfielder at Lindenwood University-St. Charles, is another potential MLB draftee. He hit .408 with 56 runs, 35 RBIs and 21 stolen bases for the Lions, who advanced to their first-ever NCAA Division II World Series. Degener is a two-time Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association first team all-conference selection.
“Degener is a ballplayer,” writes Meyer. “He will be the scrappy type that will go out and get the job done.”
Another name being talked about as a potential draftee is recent WHS graduate Erik Kaiser. The 6-foot-5 righthanded starting pitcher with a fastball clocked in the 90s posted a 3-3 record and 1.17 ERA this spring with 87 strikeouts in 59.7 innings. He also hit .425 with six home runs and 41 RBIs for the Bulldogs. Kaiser, who has committed to Vanderbilt University, pitched in front of MLB scouts during several of his starts this season.