Baseball, Spring, Top Story

Palomaki, Three Pitchers Selected in MLB Draft

The entire weekend rotation for Boston College baseball and the senior that powered the lineup all heard their names called on Day Three of the MLB Draft, surpassing last season’s total with four selections. Jake Palomaki went in the 18th round, 540th overall—higher than any any of the three Eagles from a year ago. Jacob Stevens, Brian Rapp, and Dan Metzdorf followed in the 21st, 26th, and 38th rounds, respectively.

Palomaki enjoyed a stellar career on the Heights, so it was fitting he was the highest BC player picked across the last two drafts. The Tampa Bay Rays snagged the shortstop just three years after taking Blake Butera, who has since moved on to manage their Class-A Short Season affiliate, the Hudson Valley Renegades.

Palomaki’s senior year was the cherry on top of a successful collegiate career, numbers wise. The Eagles struggled mightily to win games, but he slashed his way to a .315/.421/.445 line, with the batting average and slugging percentage both being career highs. Part of what drew scouts’ eyes was his patient approach at the plate, as he posted a 17-percent walk rate and a much lower nine-percent strikeout rate. His speed on the basepaths should also translate in the minors, as he legged out 15 extra base hits and was 19-of-21 on stolen bases attempts.

His selection was followed by the trio of starters that head coach Mike Gambino used this fall, headed by the Friday night starter in Stevens. It was the third time the junior had heard his name called, but by far the highest up on the board. A two-time 33rd round selection by the Philadelphia Phillies (2015) and New York Yankees (2017), Stevens went in the 21st round and 639th overall to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks snagged a right-handed arm that has been the focus of many scouts when looking at BC, especially over the last few years. Arizona used 18 of its final 30 picks on pitchers, largely collegiate, and Stevens joined a group that included upperclassmen arms from Kentucky, Samford, and UCLA.

His junior year was up and down, but ultimately an improvement from a season ago. Stevens went 3-7 with a 4.84 ERA across 13 starts, striking out 70 in 70 and two-thirds innings pitched while limiting opponents to a .251 batting average. His final outing of the year, one that could be his last in an Eagles uniform should he choose to sign, was one of his better games of the year against Miami—he fanned nine and conceded just two earned runs across seven innings pitched.

Rapp, a departing senior, fell five rounds later to the Minnesota Twins. Of the three starters for BC, Rapp had arguably the best year. The right-hander led the trio with a 3.57 ERA and piled up 74 strikeouts in 70 and two-thirds innings pitched.

The final selection was Metzdorf, who went in 38th round to the Yankees. The southpaw likely warranted a late-round flier because of several of his performances this season, but expect the rising senior to return to school to work out the lows. He went just 1-8 with a 5.74 ERA across 13 starts, but it doesn’t tell the whole story: Metzdorf had several starts that showed flashes of brilliance, but also a handful where he could barely escape the opening few innings.

Take two of his last three starts, for example. On the road against Notre Dame, Metzdorf hurled eight scoreless innings, walking two and striking out three in a 6-0 shutout victory, his lone win of the year. A week later, the junior was giving up nine runs, all earned, and failing to get out of the fourth inning against Louisville. Gambino and BC will be counting on him more next year and if he wants to improve his draft stock, he’ll have to concentrate on finding a better balance—and more frequent highs—as the Saturday starter.

Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor

June 7, 2018