Three Birdballers Taken in MLB Draft

On the third and final day of the MLB Draft, three members of Boston College baseball heard their name called and saw a lifelong dream fulfilled. Junior Donovan Casey was picked up by the Dodgers in the 20th round, senior Johnny Adams went to the Seattle Mariners in the 22nd round, and sophomore Jacob Stevens was taken by the New York Yankees in the 33rd round.

Casey, a standout two-way player who ranked 128th among MLB.com’s Top 200, was the first off the board for the Eagles on Wednesday afternoon. Scouts raved about Casey’s raw attributes—speed, arm strength, power—but questioned where the right fielder-turned-closer will play at the next level. On the mound, his velocity peaks around the mid-90s, and in the field, he used that arm strength to record the third-most outfield assists in the country in 2017.

If Casey indeed decides to depart the Heights for Los Angeles, he’ll leave behind a solid three-year collegiate career that will be remembered in program record books for years to come. He became the first Eagle since 2003 to hit for the cycle and notched five saves in his first full year out of the bullpen, good for eighth on the single-season list at BC.

Adams, meanwhile, leaves behind a legacy that is difficult to measure merely by statistics. Head coach Mike Gambino often talks of Adams—or as his teammates call him, The Pup—as the embodiment of Birdball’s core philosophy. He became the first junior selected to wear No. 8 in honor of Peter “Sonny” Nictakis and later became the first two-time recipient of the honor as a senior. At shortstop, he emerged into a defensive superstar alongside fellow middle infielder Jake Palomaki. The duo turned 42 double plays this season, third all-time for Birdball.

At the plate, Adams had his ups and downs. His career batting average was a mediocre .243 and his 143 career strikeouts place him third in program history, but he compensated with a high baseball IQ. Adams, a team captain, laid down the fourth-most sacrifices (24) in BC history and came through in the clutch during postseason play. In 2016, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Oxford Regional, where he went 7-for-12 and led the Eagles with four doubles, three runs, and three RBIs.

Stevens was the final BC player taken on Wednesday, but he may have the highest ceiling of the bunch. As the team’s Friday starter in the ultra-competitive ACC, Stevens finished 5-7 with 5.10 ERA and 73 strikeouts. But his freshman year numbers tell a different story. In 2016, he quickly assumed a starting role on the weekends and compiled a 4-4 record with a 2.54 ERA, even tossing 29 consecutive scoreless innings. That was enough to earn him All-American Second-Team honors, as well as the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) Rookie of the Year award. An early departure from Stevens would be a crippling hit to a pitching staff which already suffered from the losses of Justin Dunn, Mike King, and Jesse Adams to last year’s MLB Draft.

While this year’s draft did break a two-year streak of first-round draft picks for Birdball (Chris Shaw and Justin Dunn), the program remains well-represented in June. Gambino has now seen 17 of his players drafted in only seven years. For Gambino and the Eagles, the challenge isn’t just recruiting the best talents—it’s keeping them, too.

You can check out previous features here from The Heights about Casey, Adams, and Stevens.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

June 14, 2017