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6 former Anglers sign as undrafted free agents following MLB Draft

by Andrew Crane, 06-21-2020

6 former Anglers sign as undrafted free agents following MLB Draft

In the 10 days since the MLB Draft concluded, which was shortened to just five rounds and 160 selections because of the coronavirus pandemic, six former Chatham players have signed with teams as undrafted free agents. They join the seven Anglers drafted from June 10-11 in launching their professional careers, albeit during a time of uncertainty across the league about whether there'll be an MLB season, let alone minor leagues and rookie ball teams.

From John McMillon's win in the Cape Cod Baseball League's East Division Series to Nick Krauth's win over top-ranked Michigan in February, here's what you need to know about Chatham's undrafted free agents, as of June 21.

Saul Garza, Kansas City Royals

Garza became the first former Chatham player to sign as an undrafted free agent this year, as the catcher joined the Royals on June 14. In five games with the Anglers last summer, he notched five hits and two RBI — including a home run to left-center against Brewster on July 16.

At LSU, Garza started 14 of 17 games during the shortened 2020 season, while also leading the Tigers in home runs (three) and tying for the most RBI (12). That followed up a sophomore year where he batted .303 over 50 games.

Garza had been selected in the 31st round by the St. Louis Cardinals out of high school, but chose to play junior college ball in Texas at Howard College. He hit .378 with 23 home runs, transferred to LSU and was selected in the 32nd round by the Royals last year, an offer he turned down, instead electing to stay at LSU one more season.

Nick Krauth, Texas Rangers

On June 17, Krauth became the fourth former Angler to sign following the 2020 draft. The right-handed pitcher, who transferred to UConn following two seasons with Diablo Valley College, had compiled a 4-0 record with a 0.36 ERA during the 2020 season — highlighted by two wins against nationally-ranked Michigan.

Krauth only made one start with the Anglers last summer, tossing seven innings and allowing three runs against Orleans on July 31. It followed a year at Diablo Valley where he pieced together a 6-5 record and 2.20 ERA. His brother, Ben, is a pitcher in the Cleveland Indians organization, making both AA and AAA appearances last year.

John McMillon, Kansas City Royals

McMillon became the second former Chatham player to join the Royals following the 2020 draft, and one of five players the organization signed that Baseball America listed in its Top 500 draft prospect rankings. During the 2018 Cape League season, where the Anglers advanced to the championship series, McMillon appeared in eight games and made two starts — compiling a 2-2 record and 6.53 ERA.

In Game 1 of the East Division Series against Brewster, he allowed no hits and struck out six over 3.2 innings out of the bullpen. His time with the Anglers followed a junior year at Texas Tech where he notched three saves and helped the Red Raiders clinch a Big 12 title and College World Series appearance. It was also the first year McMillon didn't start at designated hitter or in the outfield, where he earned 25 starts his first two seasons in addition to a bullpen role.

He was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 2019 draft's 11th round, but chose to return to Texas Tech and appeared in seven games out of the bullpen.

Aaron Palensky, New York Yankees

The outfielder from Nebraska played three games with Chatham at the end of the 2019 regular season and playoffs, and was one of six returners for this summer. Palensky tallied one hit in eight at-bats against Harwich and Orleans, while also drawing a walk. The most recent Angler to sign, Palensky joined the New York Yankees organization on June 18.

With the Cornhuskers, he started all 15 games in right field during the shortened 2020 season, hitting .302 primarily in the third and fourth batting order slots. After one year at Southeast Community College, Palensky transferred to Nebraska. Last season, he led the Cornhuskers in four hitting categories — batting average (.320), hits (71), home runs (7), runs scored (43) and total bases (107).

Zarion Sharpe, Minnesota Twins

Sharpe, a redshirt junior pitcher from UNC Wilmington, signed on June 18 following a 3-1 record and 2.18 ERA during the shortened 2020 season. He no-hit Bowling Green for seven innings on Feb. 22, shut out Kentucky for seven innings less than a week later, and lifted his all-time record with the Seahawks to 12-7.

Last summer, Sharpe appeared in five games and made three starts with the Anglers, going 0-2 with 24 strikeouts in 20 innings and surrendering just three earned runs. In a 4-2 win against Brewster on July 15, he settled a no-decision after shutting out the Whitecaps for five innings.

The St. Louis Cardinals selected Sharpe in the 19th round of the 2019 draft, a collegiate season where he finished 3-3 with 61 strikeouts.

Brady Smith, Texas Rangers

Smith, who played both at catcher and in the infield last summer, signed with the Rangers on June 17 after three seasons at Florida. With Chatham last summer, Smith appeared in 25 games and tallied 14 hits over 60 at-bats, and was one of seven Anglers selected for the CCBL All-Star game — where he scored the game-winning run.

In the shortened 2020 season, Smith started six games, all in the infield, and finished with seven RBI for the No. 1-ranked Gators. That followed up a sophomore season where Smith started 53 games behind the plate, batted .270 and belted five home runs.