Mountain West Players Who Made The Jump To MLB
Recent Mountain West stars off to the big leagues.
The Mountain West isn’t the NCAA’s most competitive baseball conference. Each year, players from teams at Vanderbilt and LSU go on to the MLB Draft with great expectations from pundits. Though the same happens in the MW, the past few years have seen a downtick in the number of top MLB prospects.
During one five-year stint, from 2009 to 2014, only two teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Aside from these runs, the Mountain West has struggled to make meaningful appearances in regional competitions.
This makes jumps from the Mountain West to the MLB that much more exciting for baseball fans. Meanwhile, teams like San Diego State, Fresno State, New Mexico, and Nevada have helped elevate the standard of play throughout the conference in recent years.
In 2013, three athletes graduated from Mountain West baseball to the MLB, followed by one more in 2014 and another in 2015. It wasn’t again until 2019 that multiple players were drafted in the first round. Let’s take a look at which teams and athletes have excelled since then.
Bryson Stott – 14th Pick, 2019
One of the last major draft movements came from Bryson Stott, a shortstop from UNLV. He was drafted by the Phillies 14th in the first round of the 2019 Draft, marking one of the biggest MW-to-MLB jumps in the past decade.
At the moment, Stott continues to jump around the Phillies’ minor league teams until he’s ready for his major league debut. The move to the majors can take time, and Stott needs to raise his ERA and OBP—especially with MLB predictions for the season ready to be released before spring training.
The Phillies will be looking to make their first playoff run in a decade, though there’s no word yet on where Stott will be playing in the upcoming MLB season.
Ryan Jensen – 27th Pick, 2019
With Fresno State leading the conference in the overall record between 2015 and 2019, it’s no surprise that the Cubs selected pitcher Ryan Jensen as the 27th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. The big day came after Jensen was rated as the 99th pick at MLB.com, which made his final draft number at 27 even more impressive.
Though his size held him back in pre-Draft rankings, his fastball and breaking ball helped distinguish him from other pitchers. Since signing with the Cubs, Jensen has been training with their minor league team, the Eugene Emeralds.
Like Stott, he’ll need to prove his worth in the minor leagues before donning a Cubs jersey at Wrigley Field.
Justin Slaten – 86th Pick, 2019
Pitcher Justin Slaten was selected by the Texas Rangers in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Slaten is one of the highest MLB selections in recent years for Nevada. However, the team has the second-highest overall record in the conference.
Ranked behind Fresno State by just .27 percent in terms of winning percentage (60.81 to 60.54), the Wolfpack constitute one of the conference’s most dangerous teams. Slaten was one of the driving forces behind the team’s 2018 conference title.
San Diego State
Logan Boyer and Julian Escobedo – 49th and 91st Picks, 2020
In 2019, San Diego State saw four draft picks—though players Logan Boyer, Julian Escobedo, Adrian Mardueno, and Angelo Armenta were selected late in the draft. For context, Logan Boyer was selected first in the 11th round as the 341st overall pick.
However, the 2020 Draft was much kinder to the Aztecs. Third baseman and relief pitcher Casey Schmitt was selected by the San Francisco Giants as the 49th pick. Shortstop Anthony Walters was selected as the 91st pick by the New York Mets.
Schmitt is the school’s highest draft pick since 2009 (when Stephen Strasburg was drafted 1st overall) and counts as the Mountain West conference’s 13th-highest pick in history.