The 2018 MLB Draft has concluded, and three junior Trojans were selected.
Right-handed pitcher Solomon Bates was first off the board, chosen by the San Francisco Giants in the eighth round with the No. 226 overall pick.
Seventeen slots later in the same round, the St. Louis Cardinals selected outfielder Lars Nootbaar.
And on day three, the local Los Angeles Dodgers snagged first baseman and power hitter Dillon Paulson in the thirteenth round with pick No. 404.
Bates started this season in the bullpen before being moved to the starting rotation midway through the year, and was perhaps the best Trojan starter down the stretch. He finished with a 6-3 record in 18 appearances, nine of them starts, and a team-high 79 strikeouts. He also notched a win over then-No. 2 ranked Oregon State late in the season, going seven shutout innings.
It would appear Bates has already made up his mind on whether to turn pro or come back to school for his senior season. He tweeted,
Any sponsorship would make an NCAA athlete ineligible. Furthermore, all 30 players selected in the eighth round of last year’s MLB Draft signed with their respective teams.
An All-Pac-12 honoree in 2017, Nootbaar had a down year this season but has more than shown what he can do. Last year, he tied for the team lead with seven homers and 33 runs, along with a team-high six triples and 36 walks.
Nootbaar has also shown versatility on defense, seeing significant action in left and center field as well as first base throughout his collegiate career.
Paulson led the team with 10 home runs, 41 RBI and 35 walks in 2018. He is no stranger to hitting long balls at Dodger Stadium, either. The Encinitas, Calif. product tied the Dodger Stadium Classic against UCLA in April with a solo shot to right, before an eighth inning home run by Nootbaar sealed the victory.
He and Bates were two of the five Trojans who received All-Pac 12 Honorable Mentions this season.
In 2017, just five players drafted in the thirteenth round elected not to sign. League rules state players who graduate high school are immediately draft-eligible, however if they enroll in college, they must complete at least three years.