It might not have been what the area has become accustomed to, but Southern Nevada still produced its MLB talent this year.
UNLV junior outfielder Payton Squier was the first of six selections Wednesday, in the 16th round, and eight area players were taken in the three-day draft.
“It’s not that the talent pool was down, by any means,” College of Southern Nevada coach Nick Garritano said. “There just might have been a little better play around the country this year. There’s just times like that.
“The valley was a little spoiled with Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo. We’re fortunate they played baseball in Las Vegas. Those are two superstars, and the other is on the way to becoming a superstar. You’re not going to get that every year. But there are very good kids coming up through the ranks. It works its way through. There’s nothing bad going on with Vegas.”
The Rebels led the way for Southern Nevada with three draft picks.
Squier and senior infielder Justin Jones, a 2012 Bishop Gorman High graduate, were picked by the Oakland Athletics in the 16th and 34th rounds, and redshirt sophomore outfielder Ernie De La Trinidad went to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 19th round.
Squier hit .329 last season and has played in 167 games with 164 starts at multiple positions. De La Trinidad made the All-Mountain West second team after leading the team in batting average (.361), triples (five), hit-by-pitch (19), on-base percentage (.465) and stolen bases (12).
“I’m happy for all three of these guys,” UNLV coach Stan Stolte said. “They all worked so hard to improve their draft stock, and they got rewarded. Ernie and Payton have something to fall back on (returning to UNLV) if they don’t get what they want, but we will support them 100 percent in whichever direction they go. Justin had such a great year offensively that we were hoping he’d get selected. It’s a crazy business, and I’m glad to see things work out for him.”
Desert Oasis right-hander Brett Brocoff (28th round, Atlanta Braves) and Liberty infielder Jacob Rogers (38th round, Los Angeles Angels) were the two high school selections.
Brocoff, a Utah signee, was named the Class 4A Southern Nevada Player of the Year. He went 6-1 with a 1.57 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 49 innings. He batted .421 with three home runs and 37 RBIs.
“It’s a really good feeling,” Brocoff said. “I wasn’t sure (I’d be the first high school pick). There are some great ballplayers, and there also might have been some guys who were more signable. … Now the ultimate goal is you go and be a front-line starter in the Pac-(12 Conference) and become a top rounder.”
Rogers, a UNLV signee, hit .451 with three home runs and 26 RBIs and was a first-team All-Southern Nevada pick.
“It means the world,” Rogers said. “Can’t say enough about the Angels organization. This will continue to add fuel to the fire to work my tail off. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
CSN third baseman Blake Wiggins, who missed most of the season with an injured wrist, was selected in the 20th round by the Cincinnati Reds. He batted .274 with eight homers and 31 RBIs and was the program’s only draft pick.
“He had an opportunity to go in the top 10 rounds,” Garritano said. “Unbelievable power — really good raw power. If you talk to any scout across the country, that’s one of the toughest things to find. He was known to hit some balls over our light posts.
“For Blake, it’s a true testament to his character to fight through the injury and come back for the stretch run. I truly believe, without him, we don’t go to the (Junior College) World Series.”
Faith Lutheran graduate Erich Uelmen (fourth round, Chicago Cubs) and Foothill alumnus Bligh Madris (ninth round, Pittsburgh Pirates) were drafted Tuesday.
Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0430. Follow @af_ferguson on Twitter.
Southern Nevada picks in MLB draft
Fourth round — RHP Erich Uelmen, Chicago Cubs (Cal Poly, Faith Lutheran)
Ninth — OF Bligh Madris, Pittsburgh Pirates (Colorado Mesa, Foothill)
16th — OF Payton Squier, Oakland Athletics (UNLV)
19th — OF Ernie De La Trinidad, Arizona Diamondbacks (UNLV)
20th — INF Blake Wiggins, Cincinnati Reds (College of Southern Nevada)
28th — RHP Brett Brocoff, Atlanta Braves (Desert Oasis High)
34th — INF Justin Jones, Oakland Athletics (UNLV, Bishop Gorman)
38th — INF Jacob Rogers, Los Angeles Angels (Liberty High)