NEW YORK, NY – Seven Peach Belt Conference baseball players were selected in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft, which concluded on Wednesday. USC Aiken led the league with three players while Lander had two. Columbus State and Flagler had one player each. The seven players selected is the most for the PBC in three years and tied for the eighth-largest draft class in league history.
USCA senior pitcher Mitch Spence was the first PBC player taken, selected in the 10th round by the New York Yankees. He is the 21st PBC player to be selected in the first 10 rounds of the draft and the first since former Pacer teammate Connor Riley in 2017.
Spence, an all-conference performer, was the 315th pick of the draft.
He led the PBC with nine victories and 104 strikeouts. The first-team all-league and all-tournament team performer also garnered all-academic team honors. Spence was twice tabbed the NCBWA Region Pitcher of the Week.
The Cary, N.C., native registered a complete-game effort in the 2-1 win over Augusta. In the victory, Spence struck out a season-high 16 batters. He also registered 10-strikeout performances in the wins over Young Harris and Columbus State. He accounted for 104 strikeouts and garnered a 3.95 ERA.
Through three years at USC Aiken, Spence posted a 17-10 record with a 3.83 ERA. He had two saves and 243 strikeouts in 202 innings of work.
USCA's Zach Rafuse, a right-handed pitcher from Baker County, Fla., was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 35th round with the 1,064th pick while Garvin Alston Jr., was selected in the 37th round by the Chicago White Sox with the 1,100th pick.
Rafuse, a second-team all-conference selection in 2019, went 8-0 on the year while working 79.2 innings. He struck out 86 batters. Rafuse struck out a season-best 10 batters against Flagler. He posted seven strikeouts in seven innings of work in the win over nationally-ranked Georgia College. Rafuse had nine games with at least six strikeouts. He tallied a 4.07 ERA in 16 appearances while registering 15 starts. Rafuse limited opponents to a .260 batting average.
During his two years at USC Aiken, he accounted for a 13-3 record with one save and a 3.78 ERA. Rafuse appeared in 31 games, earning 29 starts. He struck out 171 batters while walking 56 in 164.1 innings of work.
Alston Jr., garnered 16 appearances in 2019, notching 15 starts. He posted a 4.63 ERA while picking up five victories on the year. Alston Jr., struck out a season-best nine batters while throwing 7.1 innings in the win at North Georgia. He registered six shutout innings while allowing just four hits in the victory over nationally-ranked Georgia College. Alston Jr., was dominant in the complete-game victory over Francis Marion in the PBC Tournament, striking out seven while allowing just one earned run.
In two seasons at USC Aiken, he posted six victories while throwing 93 innings. Alston Jr., struck out 89 batters.
For Lander, senior right-handed pitcher Alex Moore was the first Bearcat selected, taken in the 18th round (552nd overall) by the Chicago Cubs while senior right-hander Ryan Troutman followed as the Pittsburgh Pirates made him their 26th round pick (784th overall).
The two selections give the Bearcats 10 draft picks in program history. Lander's nine picks since 2014 are the second-most in the Peach Belt Conference during that span.
Moore made 20 starts and 27 appearances on the mound in his two full seasons with the Bearcats. The Sarasota, Fla., native emerged as Lander's ace during his senior season, holding down the Friday spot in Lander's rotation throughout the entire campaign. He led the Bearcats' staff with 84 strikeouts in 69.1 innings pitched in 2019. Moore began the season ranked as the No. 31-ranked prospect on Perfect Game's Division II list.
A third baseman and catcher during his first two seasons in Greenwood, Troutman blossomed into the Bearcats' closer in his senior year, leading the pitching staff with seven saves. In 2019, the St. George, S.C., native limited opponents to nine earned runs in 27.1 innings, good for a 2.96 ERA. Troutman made 43 appearances on the mound for Lander in his career, notching 41 strikeouts in 43.1 innings of work.
Columbus State's Kolton Ingram, the CSU all-time program leader in strikeouts, becomes the 35th Cougar to be taken in the draft. It's also the second consecutive season that Columbus State has been represented in the draft as Justin Evans was selected last season by the Miami Marlins. Ingram was chosen by the Detroit Tigers in the 37th round.
A 2018 All-American, Ingram will go down as one of the best pitchers in Columbus State history. The southpaw appeared in 66 games in his four-year career making 37 starts for the Cougars. He worked 286.2 innings while posting a 25-11 record to go along with his program best 315 strikeouts. For his career, he had a 2.76 ERA.
His best season came in 2018 when the Cougars made a run all the way to the NCAA Division II College World Series Championship game. Ingram was 14-3 in 136.1 innings with 150 strikeouts. He picked up three wins in the postseason run while allowing just two runs in his first 31 innings of work. Ingram lead the nation in both wins and strikeouts and also set new CSU single-season records in both categories.
Flagler senior right-handed pitcher Blair Calvo was selected in the 23rd Round (699th pick).
Calvo, a transfer from the University of Pittsburgh and a St. Augustine native, posted a 2-3 record with a 4.96 earned run average in 13 appearances. He started 12 games and earned a save in his only relief appearance. In 49 innings pitched, Calvo fanned 53 batters, an average of 9.73 strikeouts per nine innings. He earned his first win of the season after tossing eight innings with six strikeouts vs. Georgia College (April 13). Calvo fanned a season-high seven batters against UNC Pembroke (April 20).
Entering this year's draft, there were 48 former Flagler baseball players who signed contracts with professional teams, including 19 draft picks. The last time a Flagler player was selected in the MLB Draft was in 2016 when Mike O'Reilly was selected in the 27th Round by the St. Louis Cardinals.
|Player||PBC Team||Round||Pick||MLB Team|
|Mitch Spence||USC Aiken||10||315||New York Yankees|
|Alex Moore||Lander||18||552||Chicago Cubs|
|Blair Calvo||Flagler||23||699||Colorado Rockies|
|Ryan Troutman||Lander||26||784||Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Zach Rafuse||USC Aiken||35||1065||Oakland A's|
|Garvin Alston||USC Aiken||37||1100||Miami Marlins|
|Kolton Ingram||Columbus State||37||1102||Detroit Tigers|