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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Future bright for former ‘Cats in the MLB

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Rebecca Noble/Arizona Summer Wildcat


Then-Arizona infielder Scott Kingery runs to third base during Arizona’s 8-1 win over Hawaii in the last regular season game of the year at Hi Corbett field on May 24. Kingery won Pac-12 Player of the Year in his final season at Arizona. 

As the summer heats up, baseball takes center stage on the sports calendar, so now is as good a time as any to check in on how Arizona’s many recent Major League Baseball draft picks are faring at the pro level.

Since 2010, the UA baseball program has had 26 players selected in the MLB Draft, enough to fill up an entire big league roster.

As of now, no Wildcat drafted this decade has broken through to the highest level of professional baseball, but a few guys are closing in.

Of all the former Arizona players hanging around in the minors, Robert Refsnyder of the New York Yankees may be the closest to reaching the major league.

The right fielder for UA’s 2012 national championship team moved to second base after he got drafted. At his new position, Refsnyder put up good numbers through the first few years of his minor league career—including batting .300 last season for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate in Scranton, PA.

While Refsnyder’s Triple-A batting and slugging percentages have both dropped from last year, the former All-Pac-10 first team honoree could still get a call this season given the Yankees’ second base situation.

Stephen Drew, a former Arizona Diamondback, is batting under .200 as New York’s everyday second baseman. That won’t cut it for much longer.

If Refsnyder is called up to the big leagues sometime this year, he would be the first Arizona player to make an MLB debut since Boston’s Dan Butler in August.

Alex Mejia, one of Refsnyder’s teammates on the championship team, is another former Wildcat who has fared well in the minors.

A shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals organization, Mejia was recently called up to the Triple-A affiliate in Memphis, Tenn., where he has batted .278 through 20 games.

Mejia, however, may have a tougher time reaching St. Louis considering the Cardinals’ ability to churn out elite young talent.

Also competing for the Cardinals is Kurt Heyer, Arizona’s ace pitcher on the 2012 team. Yes, a theme is building here.

Heyer, who has bounced around between Double-A and Triple-A, is currently playing for St. Louis’ Double-A team in Springfield, Mo. Through 12 outings, he has kept a 5.20 ERA with a 1-0 record.

Meanwhile, two of Arizona’s latest draft picks are already beginning their minor league careers.

It was just a few months ago that Kevin Newman and Scott Kingery were tearing up Pac-12 Conference play. These days, Newman is playing for the West Virginia Black Bears while Kingery is with the Lakewood BlueClaws.

As to be expected, both players have struggled with the elevation in competition. Newman is batting .205; Kingery is not doing much better with a .220 average.

Once the two infielders—drafted in the first and second rounds, respectively—get adjusted to the professional level, they will be on the short-list of Wildcats who could soon be suiting up in a major league uniform. 

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Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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