The two top pro prospects from the TCL last season, Lee Orr and Miguel Pena, headlined a team-record 11 former Pump Jacks who were selected in the baseball’s annual draft
Major League Baseball’s annual draft marks that moment when programs around the country send their best players off to the frontier of professional baseball.
A franchise-record 11 current and former Pump Jacks were selected in the draft, which concluded Wednesday afternoon after three hectic days.
Three members of the current Jacks team were chosen, including reigning TCL Player of the YearLee Orr. Orr was picked by the San Diego Padres in the 13th round, one year after the Cincinnati Reds called his name in the 40th round. The Reds selected Jacks’ current middle infielder Kirby Pellant in the 47th round. The Kansas City Royals named outfield Kash Kalkowski in the final round of the draft.
The highest selection among Pump Jacks alumni was Miguel Pena, who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the sixth round. Four Jacks were taken in the early 20’s: the Pittsburgh Pirates picked Alex Fuselier with the first pick in the 21st round, the Cleveland Indians took Matthew Reckling in the 22nd, and both David Rollins (Toronto Blue Jays) and Matt Shelton (Los Angeles Dodgers) were taken in the 24th round.
The third day of the draft saw the Royals select Abel Gonzales in the 33rd round, followed by the Dodgers pickingStephen Tromblee in the 35th. The Houston Astros selected Steven Martin in the 37th round before Pellant and Kalkowski rounded out the Jacks action.
This year’s draft haul brings the total number of drafted Pump Jacks to 24.
The selection that attracted the most attention among Pump Jacks nation was Orr, who became a hot commodity following his spectacular summer last year. In fact, his combination of power and speed has been on the minds of major league scouts throughout his collegiate career. Last season, Orr finished second in the TCL in both home runs (5) and steals (24). He led the league in runs scored (38), ranked second in extra-base hits (21), and finished third in slugging percentage (.518).
Orr returned to McNeese State this past spring and led the team in doubles (23), home runs (8) and slugging percentage (.544). He finished second to current Pump Jack Seth Granger in hits (77) and RBI (54).
After being named the TCL’s top prospect in 2010 by Baseball America, it is safe to say Orr expected to be drafted this year. When he could have been resting and preparing for his debut at the professional level, Orr instead decided to once again wear a Pump Jacks jersey, if only for a short time. Just six games into the season, Orr’s name still stands on the TCL leaderboards. He posted eight hits, including two triples and a home run, and knocked in four runs in only five games.
Orr will likely begin his professional career with the Eugene Emeralds of the Class-A Northwest League.
Like Orr, Pena was named the top professional prospect in the TCL last summer, though he was named so by Perfect Game. Also like his former teammate, he’s no stranger to draft season. 2011 marks the third consecutive year that professional teams have vied for Pena’s arm. He was picked by the Padres in the 13th round last summer, and by the Washington Nationals in the fifth round coming out of high school in 2009.
Pena posted another impressive year on the mound as a sophomore for San Jacinto College. He finished with a 10-3 record, tying for first in Region XIV South in wins. He topped the conference with 93 strikeouts in 85 innings, finishing with an impressive 1.91 ERA. He garnered NJCAA Division I national Pitcher of the Week accolades in late April after carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning, striking out 12. For the third straight year he was named an All-American, picking up honorable mention honors this year.
Joining Pena in the draft was San Jac teammate Rollins. This year marks the fourth time Rollins has heard the call, after twice being selected by the Seattle Mariners after the Dodgers picked him coming out of high school. Rollins finished second in the conference behind Pena with 91 strikeouts and third on the team with a 2.99 ERA, helping the Gators clinch their fifth consecutive conference title.
Fuselier kicked off the 21st round by going to the Pirates, who already have former Pump Jack Matt Curry climbing through their system. The Louisiana-Lafayette junior completed his best season to date with the Ragin’ Cajuns, finishing with a .308 batting average. Batting leadoff, he hit safely in 29 of the last 35 games he played, including four separate seven-game hitting streaks.
Reckling took the hill for more games than any other member of the Rice pitching staff and scouts in the Cleveland organization took notice. Reckling held Conference USA opponents to a .214 batting average, the lowest in the league. Reckling averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings of work, totaling 96 on the year.
Reckling’s Rice teammate Gonzales, who began his career as a two-way player but found success on the mound, now finds himself a Royal. A two-time member of the Pump Jacks who played first and pitched for East Texas, Gonzales tied for the Owls lead with eight wins.
Shelton, a member of the inaugural Jacks team in 2008, wrapped up his collegiate career this past spring with Sam Houston State. He posted a 20-8 career record with the Bearkats, topped off with a first-team All-Southland Conference nod this past season.
Tromblee, the Pump Jacks’ closer in 2009, went 3-3 this season at Lamar University, after transferring in from Centenary College. Tromblee allowed only 18 earned runs in 52.1 innings on the mound, mostly out of the Cardinal bullpen.
While Texas A&M rolls into Super Regional play, Martin took the call from the Astros. An imposing presence on the mound, Martin has hit as high as 98 mph on the radar gun. The senior from Brenham has made 10 relief appearances for the Aggies this season.
The Pump Jacks return to action tonight as they travel to Brazos Valley to square off against the Bombers for the first time this season.
The team returns home June 10 for the season’s first Fireworks Friday presented by Patterson Kilgore and KLTV News. East Texas wraps up the two game series with the new Acadiana Cane Cutters on Saturday, June 11, with Everybody Wins Night. To view the complete Pump Jacks schedule, please click here.
To follow all the news and to watch every pitch of the 2011 season, visit the Pump Jacks official web site atwww.pumpjacksbaseball.com. Interact with other Pump Jacks fans and enjoy special promotions and polls by visiting the Pump Jacks on Facebook and Twitter.