Given that it was his first major-league amateur baseball draft go-round, Puyallup’s Troy Johnston wanted to find a quiet place to hang out and wait Wednesday morning.
All the loud racket over Johnston, a right fielder at Gonzaga University, being selected in the 17th round by the Miami Marlins in the 2019 MLB Draft unfolded at his alma mater –Rogers High School.
“There were some yells in one of the hallways,” Johnston said, “and my mom (Lisa) and dad (Dave, both are teachers) were on opposite ends.”
All Johnston has ever done in baseball is hit — and had a big junior season this spring with the Zags in earning all-West Coast Conference first-team honors.
He hit .330 with 10 home runs and a team record-tying 27 doubles, which ranked second in the nation this season behind Cameron Cannon’s 29 for Arizona.
“It was a huge boost for my (draft) stock,” Johnston said. “I know definitely early on, I was not on anyone’s radar. Midway through the year, I was on everyone’s radar, especially after I hit six or seven home runs in one week.”
The Marlins were one of the three teams that showed the most interest in him, along with Colorado and Kansas City.
And when the Marlins called him Wednesday morning before their pick at No. 501, they asked if he would move to first base.
“In the baseball world, if they ask you to play another position, you say, ‘Yes,'” Johnston said.
But Johnston knows it’s his bat that will impact how far he goes within the Marlins’ organization.
“It was one of my most valuable tools,” said Johnston, a three-time all-SPSL 4A first-team player at Rogers, including league most valuable player in 2016. “Scouts were in love with the bat — they loved the approach and the power to all fields.”
Southpaws start final-day, in-state draft barrage: Left-handed pitchers Chris Micheles (University of Washington/Puyallup High School) and Lucas Knowles (Central Arizona Junior College/South Kitsap High School) didn’t figure to wait long on the third day of the draft Wednesday — and both went in the 14th round.
In fact, the two pitchers were separated by three picks — Micheles went to Philadelphia at No. 420, and Knowles went to Washington at No. 423.
“(Micheles) … is not overpowering, but he has shown the ability to miss bats, and he has an arm slot that could make him really effective against left-handed (hitters),” said Christopher Crawford, a baseball prospects analyst for NBC Sports. “Knowles was a guy who had a bunch of helium coming into the draft, but inconsistent results saw his stock plummet a bit.”
Other players from Washington who were selected:
*W.F. West High School left-hander Brock Jones went to Arizona in the 16th round – at No. 482.
*Jordan Jones, a right-handed pitcher from Kentwood High School who was at the UW, went to Cleveland in the 16th round (No. 490).
*Left-hander A.J. Block, a Newport High School graduate who is at WSU, went to Detroit in the 17th round (No. 502).
*Skyline High School first baseman Will Simpson went in the 18th round to Pittsburgh (No. 544).
*Shortstop Morgan McCullough, a West Seattle High School graduate pitching at Alabama, went to the Los Angeles Angels in the 22nd round (No. 661).
*Right fielder Trent Tingelstad, a Marysville-Pilchuck High School product now at the University of Louisiana-Monroe, was picked in the 22nd round by Seattle (No. 666).
*Catcher Austin Pinorini – Johnston’s teammate at Gonzaga, and a Cascade High School alum – was selected by Cleveland in the 22nd round (No. 670).
*Decatur High School’s Garrett Westberg, who was pitching at FIU after Tacoma CC, went in the 26th round to the Mariners (No. 786).
*Centerfielder Zane Zurbrugg, another NWAC product at Shoreline CC who played at Bremerton High School, was picked by Milwaukee in the 27th round (No. 823).
*Danny Sinatro, another centerfielder who went to WSU after graduating from Skyline High School, was drafted in the 32nd round by the Los Angeles Dodgers (No. 971).
*Big-hitting Lake Washington High School first baseman Torin Montgomery went in the 35th round to Miami (No. 1,041).
*Garfield High School shortstop Owen Cobb was picked in the 37th round by San Diego (No. 1,103).
*Mount Spokane’s Brady Hill rounded out the in-state high school senior selections by going to Colorado in the 39th round (No. 1,179).
*And first baseman Dillon Plew, a Kennewick High School graduate now at WSU, went to Houston with the second-to-last pick of the draft in the 40th round (No. 1,216).