Not knowing the next step in a collegiate career can give any student athlete pause, but beginning on Friday, June 6, six UCR baseball players got a dose of relief as they were drafted to the MLB.
Highlander infielder Nick Vilter was selected by the San Diego Padres in the ninth round. The following day, pitcher Jacob Smigelski was selected in the 13th round by the Miami Marlins. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim drafted Zach Varela in the 23rd round, while first baseman Francisco Tellez was chosen in the 24th round by the Boston Red Sox. The Pittsburgh Pirates selected outfielder David Andriese in the 30th round and finally the New York Yankees chose outfielder Devyn Bolasky in the 31st round. Meanwhile, senior pitcher Dylan Stuart signed a free contract with the Atlanta Braves. The Highlanders had the most drafted players since the 2011 team.
Vilter had a phenomenal season as he won several awards. He was named to the Big West Spring All-Academic Team; he was second in home runs per game and tied for second in home runs overall during the Big West season. He also compiled a league-leading 10 home runs.
Smigelski was also recognized in the Big West Conference. He was an All-Big West Conference Honorable Mention selection during the 2014 season, as he finished 11th in innings pitched (99.1) and was tied for fourth in victories (8). Smigelski had the second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.83) on the team and struck out a career-high six batters at Portland on March 16.
Varela made 11 relief appearances to start the season, posting a 2-0 record with a 0.53 ERA over 17.0 innings. Varela pitched 86.2 innings while striking out 47 batters during the season.
Tellez was the second-highest in the Big West in slugging percentage (.583) in conference play, and his four triples in conference play led the league. He was another All-Big West Honorable Mention selection for the Highlanders.
Andriese was also an Honorable Mention selection, finishing eighth overall in the league in runs scored (38). He tied for first on the team in hits and sac flies, led the team in RBI’s and at-bats and finished in the top five in batting average, slugging percentage, doubles, triples and total bases.
Bolasky finished first on the team in sacrifice bunts, second in runs scored and third in batting average. He was also sixth in the Big West with a .336 batting average and was named to the Big West All-Conference Second Team.
Stuart led the Highlanders in starts, innings pitched and complete games. Stuart also set the school record for lowest ERA in a season for pitchers who averaged at least one inning per team game at 1.41.