Seven players from the South Sound were selected in the MLB draft on Wednesday – with three of them from the Puyallup School District.
That made eight total from the region after Curtis’ Sammy Abbott was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the eighth round on Tuesday.
Here’s a recap on the rest of the locals picked:
3B Michael Sexton (Rogers) San Francisco Giants
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Sexton was going to go into full-time ministry. The Rogers High School graduate wasn’t even going to play this year for The Master’s University, located in Santa Clarita, California.
But after his first semester, he decided to come back to baseball.
And Sexton hit 17 home runs, batting .394 with a season-season record .812 slugging percentage. He was drafted early Wednesday, in the 14th round, by the Giants.
“He just decided that it makes sense for him to go back to school,” said his former high school coach Brett Jaime, who now coaches at Kentlake. “And then he has this monster year.”
Jaime also attended The Master’s University.
“He was an extremely explosive hitter for us,” Jaime said. “And defensively he’s outstanding. Strong arm, great hands. Defensively he’s ready for it and he’s really developed since high school.”
Sexton had previously been drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 38th round in 2013.
2B Tyler Friis (Auburn Mountainview) Cleveland Indians
Friis was the starting shortstop at Auburn Mountainview when the Lions won the 2013 state championship.
He went on to Indiana State and told his former high school coach, Glen Walker, that he might play another year of college ball, depending what he can get from his professional contract.
“He has some of the best hands of any infielder I’ve ever had, if not the best,” Walker said.
Walker also said Friis projects more as a second baseman.
“He’s as good or better than any one of those guys that were drafted at that position before him,” Walker said. “He just doesn’t have the power of most those other guys, but he does have some pop. His first at-bat this year he hit a home run. I have a feeling he’s going to make it. He has the right mentality and the right drive and focus.”
RHP Leif Strom (Puyallup) Washington Nationals
The 6-foot-6 right-hander from Puyallup High School had Tommy John Surgery in May, which led to the University of Alabama pulling its scholarship offer, said his high school coach, Marc Wiese.
“He would have been a top eight round guy if he didn’t get hurt,” Wiese said.
Strom came to Puyallup for his senior year from Tuscon, Arizona, and pitched the past two seasons at Pierce College.
“He always thought he was a breaking ball guy,” Wiese said. “Throw his changeup and his split. We were really trying to say ‘Your fastball has got to be your best pitch in the future.’ He worked really hard in the weight room and he was sitting at 91-93 mph.”
Former Puyallup pitcher Luke Heimlich was projected to be one of the first pitchers selected, but went undrafted over the 40 rounds after reports of his past sex crime surfaced in the past week. Wiese declined to comment about his former pitcher who is now at Oregon State.
RHP Janson Junk (Decatur) New York Yankees
Korey Sites was Junk’s coach at Decatur High School. He was a four-year starting pitcher there, so Sites sent a text on Wednesday.
“I texted him congratulations … and that this is unfortunate,” Sites said, referring to Junk being selected by Sites’ least favorite baseball team, the Yankees.
Junk was selected in the 22nd round (No. 643 overall) and finished his junior year at Seattle U. He could return for his senior year.
3B Michael Gretler (Bonney Lake) Pittsburgh Pirates
This is the second time Gretler has been drafted. He was selected by the Red Sox in the 39th round out of Bonney Lake High School in 2015. He was drafted in the 39th round, again, by the Pirates on Wednesday.
He has been Oregon State’s starting third baseman this year and he’s hitting .300 with four triples and four home runs. He hit .500 for Bonney Lake his senior year.
His younger brother, Matthew Gretler, was the 3A Pierce County League MVP as a junior this year and is committed to Oregon State.
3B Chad Stevens (Gig Harbor) San Diego Padres
Stevens was selected in the 40th round (1,188 overall) just after helping lead Gig Harbor to its first state title in 20 years.
His coach, Pete Janson, thought Stevens was a for-sure draft pick.
“At our end-of-year banquet when I said goodbye I told him he was going to play major league baseball,” Janson said. “I had a feeling. He’s a great kid, very coachable, he has a lot of tools and he’s going to get stronger.”
Stevens also has a scholarship offer to play at the University of Portland.
3B Zach Needham (Puyallup) Seattle Mariners
Needham was selected in the 40th round (1,203 overall) after the Puyallup High School graduate recently earned the NWAC player of the year with Edmonds Community College, leading the conference with 10 home runs (just ahead of former Puyallup teammate Quinn Rawson’s eight homers).
Though it will be tough for the 6-foot-3, 210 pound former Puyallup shortstop to pass up on his scholarship to play for the University of Houston next year. He had a scholarship to play at the University of Washington out of high school before choosing to go to Edmonds so he could get more playing time.
“He’s a really projectable guy with a pretty high ceiling,” Wiese said. “I thought he was going to go higher than he did.”
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