The Major League Baseball amateur draft is around the corner, and the Valley could see a player or two picked

The Major League Baseball amateur draft of college and high-school baseball players takes place next Monday-Wednesday in Secaucus, NJ, at the MLB Network television studio complex, with the first round scheduled to be nationally televised. The draft in recent seasons has seen Valley players get picked and get a chance to live their pro baseball dreams. Two players – North Bend’s Trevor Lane and Reece Karalus – are still chasing their major league dreams, Karalus with the Tampa Bay Rays, who drafted the pitcher in 2015 out of college in California, and Lane with the New York Yankees, who drafted him the following year out of college in Illinois. A third – pitcher Josh Kimborowicz, also from North Bend by way of Snohomish County – continues his pro career in independent baseball, currently with a team in Missouri. He was drafted in 2010 by the Rays also out of college. More on him by the way later.

This season’s draft class includes four players from the Valley who are candidates in our view to get drafted by MLB clubs. Here’s a look at the four players, and their prospects.

Tanner Simpson, P, Lewis-Clark State: The senior, from North Bend and a 2014 Mount Si HS grad, has seen relatively limited action this season for the Warriors – just eight appearances and 18 innings total out of the bullpen, but the right-hander has allowed just three earned runs and struck out 14 for a 1.50 earned run average with one save. He has excelled in long relief this spring and could find himself at minimum a candidate to be signed as a free agent following the draft, but considering this program’s recent success in landing players jobs in professional baseball, most notably for fellow Mount Si grad Gunnar Buhner last season with the Philadelphia Phillies, and that clubs always value good pitching, it’s a decent bet that Simpson should find himself an opportunity or two somewhere following the season. Perhaps not in the draft, but he could be among those with a chance to sign a free agent deal.

Evan Johnson, OF/DH, Northern Colorado: Last summer’s success with the summer-league Wenatchee Apple Sox of the West Coast League, in which he set a couple of league and franchise records en route to a .321 campaign that saw him for much of the first part of the season hitting around or better than .400 had to have raised some radars, and he was for the most part able to maintain that success this spring with the Bears, finishing the campaign hitting a solid .284 with a homer and 32 RBI’s splitting it between the outfield and designated hitter. His slugging and on-base averages were both below .400, and that will certainly hurt his chances, but there’s a possibility a club might take a flyer on the senior, a 2014 MSHS’er from Snoqualmie. If nothing materializes, though, he does have a place to play this summer – with the Pacific International League’s Everett Merchants.

Aaron Davenport, P, Cedarcrest HS: We weren’t going to include the University of Hawaii-bound Red Wolve senior ace in our preview, but in prepping this we went to a website called Baseball Northwest yesterday, and had a look at some rankings of 2018 Washington high school senior draft prospects, and their rankings had Davenport 21st, which could mean a possibility of a mid-to-late round choice for the Duvall player. If this happens, he’d become the first CHS’er to ever be drafted in the draft, and there are clubs which we have been told by his mother that have kicked the tires on a possible selection of the pitcher, discussing that possibility with the family. It is expected, though, that he will honor his commitment to Hawaii and be pitching for them next season. He went 4-3 this spring with an eye-popping 0.28 earned run average and struck out 107 hitters in just 50 1/3 innings, a better than two-to-one strikeout per inning ratio, and that, of course, will raise a few scouts’ interest.

Jesiah Irish, OF, Mount Si HS: Yes, Irish is a football player, and yes, he will be playing on the gridiron this fall for Oregon State. But we heard rumblings recently that clubs have supposedly told the Wildcat senior that they’d draft him and sign him to a big signing bonus.While we don’t expect that to occur, it is important to note that he has played baseball in the past, doing so at the club level for the Sammamish-based WW Sweets team coached by former Seattle Mariner Jeff Cirillo and which also includes fellow Mount Si’er Dusty Dover, so scouts are familiar with him. If Irish were to be drafted, it will not impact his football at all, just his ability to play baseball at the college level. Clubs would treat Irish similar to how the Angels handled ex-UW and NFL quarterback Jake Locker when they drafted him about 10 years ago. According to Baseball Reference, Locker did sign a contract with the major league team, but he did not play baseball at all. So Irish could use this opportunity if it occurs as a means to get some income for himself living expenses-wise down in Corvallis, and if the drafting organization had a rookie-league or short-season class “A” club on the West Coast or in Arizona, you might see him play for a summer or two at that level moreso for conditioning and whatnot if the Beaver football folks allow that. Should be interesting to see what happens with Irish.

The draft is next Monday-Wednesday. If anyone gets selected, you’ll see it first right here at the Journal.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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