Jun 02, 2018
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Center fielder Alex McKenna and catcher Nick Meyer, both juniors, are expected to be selected in the first 10 rounds of the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft.
McKenna is projected to go in the second or third round while Meyer should be chosen by the end of the fifth round.
The MLB Draft begins Monday at 4 p.m. with the first two rounds inside the studios of MLB Network in Secaucus, N.J. Rounds 3-10 will be held Tuesday at 10 a.m. with the final 30 rounds scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m.
The Detroit Tigers will make the first selection, followed by the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies.
Cal Poly has had 28 players chosen in the top 10 rounds of the draft since Larry Lee took over as head coach in 2003. A total of 66 Mustangs coached by Lee have signed professional contracts, including 64 in the last 13 years.
McKenna is listed No. 97 on MLB.com's list of top 200 prospects while Meyer is No. 166 on the list and No. 10 among catchers. While Meyer has never been drafted, McKenna was a 38th-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2015 as a senior at Alemany High School.
Last October, D1Baseball.com predicted McKenna would be the 11th outfielder for the draft while Meyer was the No. 8 selection among catchers.
Wrote MLB.com writer Jim Callis on McKenna:
"McKenna became a prospect of interest when he hit .360 as a sophomore at Cal Poly to earn a first-team All-Big West Conference nod. He certainly didn't hurt his stock any by hitting well in the Cape Cod League over the summer and he's continued to be that solid performer in his junior season with the Mustangs.
"McKenna's loudest tool is his bat, with an advanced approach and line-drive oriented swing. He does have good bat speed and some raw power to tap into, though he hasn't done so yet collegiately. He has solid average speed and good instincts on the basepaths.
"Where the main divergence in opinion about McKenna is where he profiles defensively. Some feel he can stay in center long-term, which obviously improves his profile. Others think he'll have to move to left or would profile best as a fourth outfielder.
"As a college performer who has, well, performed, McKenna's stock has at least held steady, if not risen, during his junior season. A team that thinks he can stick in center could be the one that takes him in the top three rounds, where he'll try to join outfielder Mitch Haniger, a 2012 draftee, as the most recent Mustangs to reach the big leagues."
Named to Collegiate Baseball's NCAA Division I All-American third team on Thursday, McKenna became the fifth Mustang to earn Big West Conference Field Player of the Year honors. A two-time All-Big West first team selection, McKenna hit .339 this season and led the Mustangs with 81 hits, 51 runs scored and 15 doubles.
McKenna (6-2, 200, Canyon Country, Calif./Alemany HS) produced 23 multiple-hit games, including his third, fourth and fifth four-hit games of his Mustang career. He had a 12-game hitting streak near the end of the season and also compiled 17- and 20-game reached base streaks.
In Big West games only, McKenna was No. 1 in the conference with a .406 average and led the league overall in runs scored (51), hits (81), plate appearances (276) and at-bats (239) and was second in total bases (121), third in triples (5) and fifth in doubles (15) and average (.339).
McKenna, who committed just one error in 155 fielding chances this spring, earned the team's Ozzie Smith Most Valuable Player Award for the second straight year.
Though he was listed No. 10 among catchers for the draft by MLB.com, Meyer is ranked as the best defender among the top 10.
"Meyer's defense alone should make him at least a big league backup. He's an advanced receiver and framer who moves well behind the plate and has a solid, accurate arm," wrote Callis.
"There are college catchers who can really hit, but might have to move out from behind the plate because of their defensive inefficiencies. Then there are those like Meyer, who undoubtedly have a future as a defensive backstop, with how much they hit truly determining what kind of professional career they have.
"A three-year starter at Cal Poly, Meyer's glove also earned him a spot on USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team. He has excellent hands and moves well behind the plate, allowing him to receive and block well. He has a strong and accurate arm, recording excellent pop times to second base on a consistent basis.
"Offensively, the right-handed hitter has been less productive. He does make consistent contact and rarely strikes out with decent on-base skills. And he's having his best offensive season now, albeit without any power.
"Meyer more than likely profiles as a backup at the next level. If his bat comes around with pro instruction, he could become a defensive-minded regular. In either case, his defensive skillset should have him off the board in the top six rounds."
Meyer, the 2016 Big West Conference Freshman Field Player of the Year, a second-team All-Big West selection in both 2016 and 2017 and the conference's Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Big West honoree earlier this week, earned the team's John Orton Gold Glove award for the third year in a row.
Meyer (6-0, 195, Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic HS) has thrown out 49 runners trying to steal and has picked off 16 other base runners in his three-year Mustang career. He is No. 3 in the conference and 49th in the nation in toughest to strike out (once every 11.3 at-bats) and, in three Mustang seasons, has struck out just 49 times in 600 at-bats (once every 12.2 at-bats).
Meyer's .344 batting average is No. 3 in the Big West, .001 behind the co-leaders, while his 43 runs scored is No. 2 and his 74 hits No. 4. Over his last 27 games this season, Meyer went 47-for-116 (.405) to lift his average 70 points.
He earned Cal Poly's lone Big West Player of the Week accolade this season following an explosive week as he hit .529 (9-for-17) with five runs scored and three RBI while slugging .706 over the four games against Pepperdine and UC Santa Barbara.
Three other Mustangs are potential draft picks, led by senior southpaw Trent Shelton.
A second-team All-Big West selection, Shelton (6-4, 205, Lafayette, Calif./Campolindo HS/Oregon State) captured the team's Mike Krukow Outstanding Pitcher Award after posting a 5-1 win-loss record in Big West games and 6-3 overall with a 3.33 ERA. He was sixth in the conference in wins and strikeouts (68) and eighth in ERA.
Other possible late-round draft picks are junior right-handed pitcher Michael Clark and junior shortstop Kyle Marinconz.
Clark (6-0, 170, Rohnert Park, Calif./Cardinal Newman HS) was 4-6 with a 5.90 ERA this season, starting 10 games at the beginning and end of the season with 12 relief appearances in between. He struck out 61 batters over 68.2 innings.
A year ago as a sophomore, Clark earned 11 saves with a 5-0 mark and 2.59 ERA en route to second-team All-Big West honors.
Marinconz (5-10, 180, San Jose, Calif./Valley Christian HS) hit .305 with 14 doubles and 31 RBI this season. The 2017 first-team All-Big West and 2016 honorable mention selection was among the conference leaders in walks and fielding assists.
Cal Poly's highest-ever draft pick was catcher John Orton, selected by the then-California Angels as the 25th overall pick in 1987. Two other former Mustangs were first-round compensatory picks — Haniger as the 38th overall selection by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012 and southpaw Garrett Olson, the 48th overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles in 2005.
Last year, right-handed pitcher Spencer Howard was a second-round choice (45th overall) of the Philadelphia Phillies and Erich Uelmen, also a right-handed pitcher, was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the fourth round.