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MLB Draft recap: 11 former Anglers from past 3 years selected

by Andrew Crane, 07-14-2021

MLB Draft recap: 11 former Anglers from past 3 years selected

By the time the MLB Draft’s 20 rounds had concluded, with the Minnesota Twins sending in their pick for No. 609, 10 former Chatham Anglers had landed professional opportunities with teams — including four, Austin Vernon, Aaron Davenport, Kolby Kubichek and Adam Tulloch, from the 2021 team.

That brought the total of Anglers drafted over the last four years to 81 after seven were selected in the shortened, five-round draft held last year when Spencer Torkelson went No. 1 overall. Ty Madden was the first Chatham player off the board when the 2019 Angler became a competitive-balance round selection of the Detroit Tigers — joining Torkelson in the organization. That was followed by four Anglers on day two, which included rounds 2-10, and six on day three.

With more Chatham players, both current and former, expected to receive opportunities as undrafted free agents in the coming weeks, here’s what to know about the 11 that landed opportunities via the draft and the organizations that they could potentially join.

Ty Madden (‘19), No. 32, Detroit Tigers

In his third season with Texas, Madden started all 18 games he pitched — his second consecutive year as a full-time starter — and finished fourth on the Longhorns with a 2.45 ERA. He threw a complete-game, two-hit shutout against Houston on March 5 and lasted at least five innings in every start after throwing only four in his season-debut, a loss to Mississippi State.

Madden used his slider, which he once called his “bread and butter,” and fastball to navigate through collegiate lineups, winning the Big 12’s Pitcher of the Year award at the end of the season after allowing opponents to hit just .188 against him.

He ranked as high as a top-10 pick in some draft rankings, but continued to fall as Sunday night’s first round stretched on. His eight appearances and 1-1 record with Chatham helped boost its stock, but his undefeated 2020 season, albeit shortened due to COVID-19, had thrust it even higher. Eventually, the Tigers gave Madden — a former 34th-round draft pick out of high school by the Kansas City Royals — another professional chance three years later and 33 rounds higher.

Michael Kirian (‘18), No. 173, Washington Nationals

Kirian threw just two innings for Chatham across three appearances during June 2018, not surrendering a run, striking out three batters and allowing four hits, but he served as one of Louisville’s top bullpen pitchers before cracking the starting rotation in his fourth season. He threw 7.1 innings in the Cardinals’ early-season win over NC State, an eventual Omaha contender, by scattering just two hits and one run around 13 strikeouts — throwing a career-high 124 pitches to accomplish all of that.

Aaron Davenport (‘21), No. 186, Cleveland Indians

Only in Chatham for two starts this summer, Davenport positioned himself for a high draft position with a pair of strong seasons with Hawaii — serving as its Friday starter in 2021 while striking out 97 batters and walking just 21. He finished with a 3-6 record, but lasted six or more innings in all but two appearances. Davenport’s second start of the season, a March 4 win against Hawaii Pacific, ended with 13 strikeouts, although perhaps his most noteworthy start came in 2020 when he threw six scoreless innings against then-No.2 Vanderbilt.

Davenport told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that Cleveland called him with an offer in the fifth round, but he turned it down before they called again in the sixth round with a better deal — something that made him “ready to roll and get to the big leagues as quickly as possible,” he said.

Hugh Fisher (‘19), No. 288, Arizona Diamondbacks

Fisher was the second 2019 Angler selected and the third on the draft’s second day, joining the Diamondbacks organization after a senior year at Vanderbilt where he appeared in 16 games out of the bullpen. With Chatham in 2019, he appeared in six games, starting one, and finished with a 1-0 record with 13 strikeouts in 8.2 innings. Fisher limited opponents to a .139 batting average against him, allowing just three extra-base hits and two singles — resulting in just three earned runs scattered across the entire season.

Austin Vernon (‘19, ‘21), No. 311, Tampa Bay Rays

When Vernon joined the Tampa Bay organization with two picks left in day two of the draft, he became the first current Angler to find a landing spot in professional baseball — Davenport was released earlier this season for pre-draft workouts. Vernon returned to the Cape League this summer after a year at NC Central where he threw a no-hitter and finished with a 2.55 ERA, and proceeded to toss three hitless innings in his Chatham return. He went 3-0 in the 2019 regular season for the Anglers before dropping a decision in the playoffs, and, though he allowed seven runs in his final two starts of 2021, Vernon still held opponents to a .143 batting average against his pitches.

Ben Ramirez (‘18, ‘19), No. 384, Seattle Mariners

Continuing his role as an everyday infielder for USC, Ramirez started all 51 of the Trojans’ games while mostly hitting in the middle of their order and often third base — hitting .304 with 58 hits and 54 RBI. He played in 37 games for Chatham in 2018 and added another 37 the next season, serving as a staple in their order with 56 combined hits. Strikeouts presented an issue for Ramirez during his first season with the Anglers, when he struck out twice for every one walk he drew, but when he returned to the Cape that ratio dropped to just four strikeouts for every three walks.

Anthony Vilar (‘19), No. 460, San Diego Padres

Vilar followed Ramirez off the board on the third day, as the Miami utility infielder was drafted as a catcher by the Padres despite starting at shortstop and second base for the Hurricanes the past three seasons. He played in 26 games for the Anglers and hit just .172, but lifted that average to .297 during the shortened 2020 college season with a Miami-high five doubles and two home runs. This past year, Vilar hit .275 with 57 hits in 207 at-bats.

Cole Ayers (‘19), No. 483, New York Yankees

After appearing in eight games for the Anglers in 2019, Ayers transferred to the State College of Florida and spent his final two seasons there, throwing 87.2 innings and allowing just 37 earned runs across the two years. Mixed in with his 114 strikeouts were only 29 walks, a rate that mirrored his 29 strikeouts and 12 walks with the Anglers. According to Mahoning Valley, Ayers’ collegiate summer team in the MLB Draft League, his whiff% on his curveball and slider is 55.3 and 55.9, respectively — keying those strikeouts along with his fastball and changeup.

Adam Tulloch (‘21), No. 522, Los Angeles Dodgers

Tulloch transferred to West Virginia in 2021, his third college in three years, and went 0-4 with a 6.27 ERA. He rebounded with four appearances in the Cape League that positioned him as one of the top pitchers on Chatham’s staff when started with a stretch of 11 consecutive scoreless innings. The left-hander consistently hits low spots in the zone and struck out 23 hitters while allowing just two walks.

Kolby Kubichek (‘19, ‘21), No. 532, New York Mets

Soon after Tulloch was selected by the Dodgers, Kubichek — who returned to Chatham and made his first 2021 start on Sunday against Bourne — became the latest draft pick of the Mets when he went off the board in the 18th round. He allowed a first-inning home run to Dalton Rushing, the Braves’ third hitter of the game, but settled down after that and allowed just one other hit over his final three innings of work.

Kubichek’s 0.90 ERA with the Anglers in 2019 positioned him as one of the best on their staff, but he allowed four runs in five innings during his lone playoff start. With Texas this past season, he finished with a 5-3 record and 3.86 ERA in 51.1 innings.

Charlie Welch (‘19), No. 564, Seattle Mariners

When Welch played with Chatham in 2019, he attended St. Johns River State College following a freshman season at Pepperdine but transferred to Arkansas for the 2021 season. He tallied 26 hits in 67 at-bats for the Razorbacks, but perhaps his most notable stat came in pinch-hit situations: Welch went 8-for-12 in those spots, including a three-run home run in the eighth inning of the NCAA tournament against Nebraska that helped propel Arkansas to the Super Regionals.