A fine line exists for most prospects in the major league draft, and UNLV junior Xavier Scruggs found himself walking it.
The line is psychological. The challenge is to remain optimistic about being selected high while preparing for a possible letdown.
Coming off one of the top offensive seasons in Rebels history, Scruggs was widely projected by draft analysts to go in the first 10 rounds. When he finally was selected Friday, it was in the 19th round, 575th overall, by the St. Louis Cardinals.
With UNLV this season, Scruggs batted .379 with 20 home runs and 65 RBIs. He won numerous honors, including Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference.
“I felt like I put myself in position to be drafted in a very good spot,” he said. “Obviously, you try to hope that you go as high as possible.
“But you can’t really have too many expectations because you never know with this draft deal.”
Still, after slipping, he was pleased when the waiting game ended.
“I was excited just to have the opportunity to be drafted,” he said. “It takes a lot out of you sitting there waiting for your name to be called.”
Scruggs, from Poway High School in San Diego, was one of 15 local players to go in the final 44 rounds on the draft’s second day.
Three local prospects — Durango shortstop Niko Vasquez, College of Southern Nevada catcher Braeden Schlehuber and CSN pitcher Colby Shreve — went in the first six rounds Thursday.
CSN outfielder Devin Shepherd was the first local player to be picked Friday. Shepherd, a sophomore from Oxnard, Calif., went in the 11th round, 335th overall, to St. Louis.
Coyotes pitchers Taylor Cole and Egan Smith were picked in the late rounds. Cole, a Bishop Gorman product, went in the 31st round to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Smith was a 35th-round pick by the Cleveland Indians.
Scruggs was the first of three UNLV players to go. Junior catcher Michael Brenly went in the 36th round to the Chicago Cubs, and junior pitcher Jeff Urlaub was called in the 47th by the Florida Marlins.
Brenly, who batted .307 with three homers and 34 RBIs last season, is the son of Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly, a former major league player and manager.
Scruggs played first base last season for the Rebels but said the Cardinals plan to try him at third base.
“I’m definitely hoping to sign. If things don’t work out, I’ll be headed back to UNLV for my senior year, so it’s a win-win situation for me,” said Scruggs, named NCBWA District VIII Player of the Year and a Louisville Slugger second-team All-American.
Durango’s Vasquez was a third-round selection by the Cardinals, but it was a long wait until another Las Vegas-area high school player was picked.
Bishop Gorman infielder Brandon Garcia, who went in the 28th round to the Milwaukee Brewers, was the first of nine Las Vegas prep players selected Friday.
The state champion Gaels had two other late-round picks, catcher John Rickard and pitcher Donn Roach. Both were called by the Los Angeles Angels, with Rickard going in the 38th and Roach in the 40th.
Las Vegas High products Marvin Campbell and Bryan Harper both went in the 31st round. Campbell, a first baseman, was picked by Florida. Harper, a pitcher, went to the Washington Nationals.
Also drafted late were Silverado outfielder Jordan Keegan (36th round, Chicago White Sox), Coronado outfielder Andrew Gans (39th, Tampa Bay) and Green Valley shortstop Matt Harrison (46th, Atlanta).
Spring Valley pitcher Tyler Anderson went in the 50th and final round to the Minnesota Twins. Anderson, Campbell, Gans and Keegan signed with CSN.
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at email@example.com or 702-387-2907.