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Trojans in the MiLB Performance Report

In the last two years, five former USC baseball players have been selected in the MLB Draft. We check in on how they’re doing.

John McGillen

Dillon Paulsen

The big lefty Paulsen pulled towering home run after towering home run over the right field fence at Dedeaux Field. He had 10 in 2018, four more than fellow minor leaguer Lars Nootbaar for the team lead.

The Los Angeles Dodgers chose Paulsen in the 13th round in the 2018 MLB Draft in early June. He’s picked up right where he left off, with the Ogden Raptors in Utah in Advanced Rookie ball, though not without some controversy.

Paulsen is tied for fourth in the Pioneer League with eight long balls and 37 RBI. He also leads the league in walks with 30, a category he led the Trojans in this past season as well.

But the biggest indication that Paulsen has not just kept up his production but rather improved is his .313 average, 58 points higher than his junior season, and against tougher competition at that.

Solomon Bates

John McGillen

No Trojan pitcher had a better second half of 2018 than Bates—Dan Hubbs’ decision to bring him into the starting rotation paid off big-time. Bates finished the year 6-3 with a 3.14 ERA, resulting in an eighth-round selection by the San Francisco Giants.

Bates went right to Class A Short-Season baseball, a hair below single A, for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes up in Oregon. He’s returned to the bullpen with a 4.86 ERA and has showcased his ability to work multiple innings, racking up 16 2/3 over nine relief outings.

His control has been a bit of an issue, however, as Bates has surrendered 10 walks. That said, he’s also notched 28 strikeouts. If Bates can settle down with his control, promotion should surely be in his sights.

Lars Nootbaar

John McGillen

Nootbaar was by far the most dangerous Trojan batter in 2017, tying for the team lead with seven dingers, a team high 34 RBIs and a nice .313 average. Unfortunately, he struggled mightily as a junior, and those struggles have stuck with him in Class A Short despite the St. Louis Cardinals picking him in Round 8 of the 2018 Draft.

He’s hitting just .210 with no home runs for the State College (SC) Spikes in Penn State Nittany Lion country, hitting sixth in the order, but will continue to see plenty of opportunities as such a high pick.

Lately, he’s been playing predominantly left field for the Spikes, and has just two errors, second fewest among the team’s regulars. He also played a lot of center as well as first base in college.

Frankie Rios

Rios was drafted in the 17th round by the Boston Red Sox following a junior season in which he led the Trojans with a stellar .354 batting average.

After his rookie year in the Minors was spent in A Short, Rios was promoted to Class A proper this season to the Greenville Drive in South Carolina. He’s been quite versatile, playing 27 games at third, 19 at second and 16 at his natural shortstop.

He’s still adjusting to the stronger pitching in A ball, with a slight decline in his numbers across the board. There is one exception: his slugging percentage is up to .317 from .291 in 2017.

Adalberto Carillo

Carillo had a bit of a funky final year in the cardinal and gold in 2017, starting off hitting cleanup but getting dropped all the way down to ninth. Yet he still tied Nootbaar’s team-high seven homers and earned a 33rd round pick by the Washington Nationals.

Carillo too was promoted this year, from rookie ball to A Short, and has improved drastically. He hit just .091 in his first season, albeit in only 22 at-bats, but is now up to .213 with the Auburn Doubledays in upstate New York.

Though he played third all of his junior year, Carillo has served as the third-string catcher for Auburn. He got the start yesterday against Nootbaar’s Spikes. The Spikes have taken the first three games in their four-game series.

Corey Dempster

Depster was actually drafted back in 2016, in the 37th round by the New York Yankees following his junior season, but with such a late selection made the sensible choice to return to school.

But he missed the beginning of the following year with a knee injury, and while he still had a decent campaign, hitting .270 with four home runs, he never really looked quite like himself and unfortunately went undrafted in 2017.

Luckily, he still has a chance to prove what he can do, albeit in independent, unaffiliated baseball, with the San Rafael Pacifics up in NorCal. He started the season on a tear, but in the last two weeks his average has gone from .317 to .278, in part due to the fact that he isn’t an every-game starter. He’s still been able to tally four jacks and 22 RBI.