In the first round of Monday’s Major League Baseball draft, Conestoga graduate Brendon Little was selected 27th overall by the Chicago Cubs after his sophomore season at State College of Florida.
Little spent his freshman year at North Carolina before transferring to junior college and immediately playing for the Manatees. The 6-foot-2, hard-throwing lefthander appeared in just four innings for the Tar Heels — and decided to transfer for immediate eligibility in this year’s draft.
In the Cape Cod League last summer, Little dazzled scouts for the Bourne Braves while posting a 2.53 ERA in 85 innings. He walked only 33 and struck out 133.
Before opting to honor his commitment to North Carolina, he was selected in the 36th round of the 2015 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants.
As a senior at Conestoga, Little led the Pioneers in 2015 to their first outright Central League title since 2008 — earning a 3-3 record with a 1.24 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 38 innings. Little boasts a fastball that reaches 97 mph and has enamored scouts with his 12-6 curveball.
Little led State College of Florida this season with 133 strikeouts and a 2.53 ERA in 85 ⅓ innings. He was the first junior-college player selected in this year’s draft, which continues until Wednesday.
With the first pick of Tuesday’s fifth round, Garnet Valley grad Andrew Bechtold was selected by the Minnesota Twins at No. 136 overall. The 21-year old infielder just recently helped lead Chipola College to the NJCAA College World Series.
Despite committing to play at LSU for his junior season, Bechtold expects to sign with the Twins and begin his professional career in the minor leagues. The 136th pick has an approximate bonus of $378,700, but Minnesota is rumored to have overpaid for Bechtold.
“I’m definitely going to sign with Minnesota,” Bechtold said, “pending that everything works out. It’s just a perfect fit for me. I was really happy to be picked by them. They were definitely one of my front-runners.”
Drafted by the Rangers in the 37th round after graduating high school in 2014, Bechtold chose to honor his commitment to Maryland. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound shortstop redshirted his freshman season for the Terrapins. As a sophomore, Bechtold started 49 games at third base and struggled at the plate — hitting just .218 with five doubles
Rather than returning to Maryland, Bechtold transferred to junior-college powerhouse Chipola (Fla.) in hopes of improving his draft stock. The Chadds Ford native led Chipola with a .419 average, adding 16 doubles, 12 home runs, and 65 RBIs. Chipola’s program has produced professional players such as Russell Martin and Jose Bautista.
At Garnet Valley, Bechtold batted .339 to help the Jaguars to a 2015 Central League title in his senior season.
Dubbed as South Jersey’s top high school prospect, Millville third baseman Buddy Kennedy was chosen by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fifth round. Kennedy had worked out with Los Angeles Angels all-star and Millville native Mike Trout before this week’s draft.
Selected 142nd overall, Kennedy must decide whether to play at North Carolina next season or accept Arizona’s offer. The 142nd pick carries an approximate signing bonus of $357,000.
Kennedy was ranked by Baseball America as the nation’s 94th high school prospect and worked out for the Angels and Phillies before the draft. As a senior at Millville, the 5-foot-10, four-year starter batted .493 with a .985 slugging percentage to collect third-team all-American honors from Rawlings and Perfect Game.
At 148th overall in the fifth round, St. Joseph’s catcher Deon Stafford was chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Stafford just concluded his junior season for the Hawks and has the option to returning for his senior year — the 148th pick has an estimated signing bonus of $336,500.
Stafford played high school baseball at Lower Dauphin and chose the Hawks over Michigan and Villanova, among others. The 6-foot backstop is considered Philadelphia’s top college hitter after earning Atlantic 10 and Big 5 Player of the Year honors after his sophomore season.
As a junior, Stafford batted .288 with eight home runs and 22 RBIs for St. Joseph’s.
Former Devon Prep standout and Seton Hall righthander Zach Schellenger was taken by the Boston Red Sox in the sixth round, 191st overall. Schellenger just finished his junior season for the Pirates, pitching in just 13 innings with a 2-0 record and allowing only three runs. The Malvern native shined in the Cape Cod League last summer, hurling 33 innings for the Harwich Mariners with a 3.54 ERA. His 91-96-mph fastball, active sinker, and overall control helped his draft stock.
Schellenger has the ability to return and pitch one more season for the Pirates if he does not accept Boston’s offer.
Villanova lefthanded pitcher Hunter Schryver was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the seventh round. At 199th overall, Schryver would be accepting a signing bonus of roughly $215,200 from the Rays. The 6-1 southpaw recently graduated from Villanova and led the Wildcats with a 2.44 ERA in 73 ⅓ innings this season.
The first-team All-Big East pitcher is a Cumberland Valley graduate. At 24, Schryver does not have any college eligibility remaining — this is the first draft in which he has been chosen.
In the seventh round, the Los Angeles Angels selected Buena grad Denny Brady with the 205th pick. After struggling at East Carolina as a freshman, Brady transferred to Mercer County Community College for the past two seasons. The 6-2 righthander was 11-2 this season, recording 118 strikeouts and a 0.96 ERA in 84 ⅓ innings. At Buena, Brady helped the Chiefs to their first state championship during the 2014 season.
The Old Dominion signee has to decide when he wants to begin his professional career, as the Vineland native could wait for next year’s draft and use his final season of eligibility with the Monarchs.