High School Sports

Rogers grad Logan Ice has hot MLB draft stock out of Oregon State

Oregon State catcher Logan Ice congratulates pitcher Scott Schultz, left, after after the team defeated UC Irvine in an NCAA college baseball regional tournament game in Corvallis, Ore., Sunday, June 1, 2014.
Oregon State catcher Logan Ice congratulates pitcher Scott Schultz, left, after after the team defeated UC Irvine in an NCAA college baseball regional tournament game in Corvallis, Ore., Sunday, June 1, 2014. AP

If only Logan Ice had the time to reflect on all of this.

The junior catcher has spent his past few weeks fielding calls from major league baseball teams at the crescendo of their draft preparations. He learned he was selected as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s top catcher. And there’s his social movements (SOC 471) class to keep up with, among the 15 credits he’s taking at Oregon State University.

There’s a good chance Ice is a first-day selection in the MLB amateur draft when it commences on Thursday with the first two rounds, including competitive balance and compensatory picks — a dream finally realized for the junior catcher from Puyallup’s Rogers High School.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed about my whole life,” Ice said. “This week, this whole year and this whole experience at Oregon State to build up to this has been special.”

He wasn’t supposed to be this good.

MLB draft ▪  4 p.m. Thursday: Rounds 1-2, including competitive balance rounds and compensatory picks (broadcast on MLB Network) ▪  10 a.m. Friday: Rounds 3-10 ▪  9 a.m. Saturday: Rounds 11-40

Ice’s defensive skills, on their own, could have persuaded a big league club to take a flyer on him. He’s started each of his three years in college, has committed just four errors, had one passed ball this year and threw out 44 percent of would-be base stealers.

Those defensive skills were evident even when he was at Rogers.

But Ice’s draft stock heated up this year because he proved he can contribute just as much as a hitter at the plate as he can a catcher behind it.

“He’s probably major-league ready right now as a catcher,” said Brett Jaime, his former coach at Rogers. Jaime was a former catcher and now coach at Kentlake.

“Logan has always been a great defensive catcher. He wasn’t a premier hitter, but by his junior year he was a pretty darn good hitter. He wasn’t at a Division I caliber, but he was on his way there.”

Jaime said Ice has the most accurate throw from catcher to second base he’s ever seen from the position. If anything, that accuracy made him a perfect batting practice pitcher.

“And he’s got the most consistent transfer and release I’ve seen. It’s incredible,” Jaime said. “Every now and then I’d have him throw batting practice because every time he’d throw it thigh high and down the middle.

“If he doesn’t make it as an All-Star catcher then he’s got a career as a lifetime batting practice thrower, at least.”

Ice is now a rare commodity — a switch hitting catcher. He’s ranked the No. 67 overall draft prospect by Baseball America — even if that’s followed with “thanks to solid if unspectacular tools.”

But Ice is accustomed to being overlooked.

How could you notice him when Reese McGuire was just a few miles up the road catching at Kentwood before becoming the 14th overall pick in the 2013 draft? And then there was Brendan Illies bursting on the scene other side of town as a catcher at Puyallup High School (Illies was drafted last year but decided to honor his letter of intent with North Carolina).

And Ice got pneumonia near the start of his senior season at Rogers. He finished the season hitting .310 — the eighth best on his own team.

“There was never a question about his defense,” said Rogers coach Matt Whitehead, who coached Ice his senior year. “As a coach, you knew what you had. You knew how good he was. But he wasn’t flashy. He didn’t have that ‘Wow’ factor.”

Said Puyallup coach Marc Wiese: “It was pretty tough with Reese around, but I tell ya, Ice was pretty darn good behind the dish, too.”

Said Emerald Ridge coach Larry Marshall, who coached Ice for two years on his club team, the Puyallup Knights: “It’s amazing that people outside of the Pac-12 recognize Logan for his defensive ability because — and I don’t mean this as a negative thing — he just isn’t a flashy guy. He just gets it done, and he gets it done all of the time and does it extremely well.”

Oregon State could hide Ice’s bat his freshman year when it had three regular starters batting over .330, including current Mets outfielder Michael Conforto. Ice could focus on catching.

But he knew he needed to become a factor in the middle of the Beavers’ lineup this year. He spent hours reading, analyzing and watching video and made mechanical adjustments to his swing this year, he said.

It’s made him more efficient with the lower half of his body and improved his bat speed. He went from hitting .250 as a freshman to .276 in 2015 to .310 this year — leading the team in hits (65), triples (5) and slugging percentage (.563).

But most of all, he said, he was just more confident.

“My role was different than my first two years so I knew I had to perform. I knew I had to do well,” Ice said. “With that, it gave me confidence because I knew people were going to be counting on me, and I knew I was going to be one of the better hitters on the team.”

He hasn’t been back in Puyallup much since heading to Corvallis, meaning fewer visits to some of his favorite food stops — Sparks Deli and Powerhouse.

But he’ll take the tradeoff if it means realizing his dream of playing in the big leagues. Teams have expressed interest in drafting Ice in the first round, he said, but it’s more likely he’s picked later Thursday or early Friday.

“A lot of people, at least scouts, tell me, ‘You play like you have a little chip on your shoulder,’ ” Ice said. “I’m like, ‘Well, I played in high school overshadowed by Reese, and there were guys younger than me in my baseball career they said were better than me.’

“But coming into Oregon State, my goal was to play for three years, do the best I could and hopefully have the opportunity to be drafted high. I really think my abilities have gotten better each year and I plan on them continuing to get better.”

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677, @tjcotterill

Locals in the MLB draft

These are a few baseball players from South Sound high schools who are most likely to see their names called in the 2016 MLB draft. It begins at 4 p.m. Thursday with the first two rounds and supplemental rounds airing on the MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 start at 10 a.m. Friday and rounds 11-40 start at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Logan Ice, Oregon State (Rogers), C: Beavers already planning on life without their junior catcher, whose defensive prowess and switch-hitting ability make him a rare commodity.

Christian Jones, Federal Way, OF/1B: Baseball America’s No. 137 overall prospect has earned comparisons to Ryan Howard, but his family has said he’d prefer to continue to develop at UW.

Jordan Jones, Kentwood, P: Polished pitcher excels at locating offspeed pitches. But would take a lot to persuade Jones to pass on his letter of intent to UW.

Taylor Jones, Gonzaga (Kentwood), 1B: 6-foot-7 older brother of Jordan Jones should go much higher than 35th round like last year as a senior sign this time. He’s hoping to be picked in first 10 rounds.

Brock Carpenter, Seattle U (Fife), 3B: Hit eight home runs his senior year at Fife before San Diego drafted him in the 39th round. This year led Seattle U with seven HRs and a .327 batting average.

Michael Toglia, Gig Harbor, OF/P: Has a few tools — great arm in center field, reads ball off the bat well and 6-foot-5 switch hitter can hit the ball all over the field. Has signed with UCLA.

Troy Johnston, Rogers, OF: Some coaches have said Johnston, the three-time 4A SPSL South batting champ, is the best pure hitter they’ve seen. But he’s informed scouts he’d prefer to go to Gonzaga.

tcotterill@thenewstribune.com

  Comments