UCR’s Ryan Lillie, CBU’s Garett King, top area college prospects for MLB draft
By Allan Steele
Two area college pitchers are projected to be taken within the first 150 picks in Monday’s major league baseball draft.
According to Baseball American’s top-500 list, UC Riverside’s senior right hander Ryan Lillie is projected at 148 and California Baptist right-hander Garett King is No. 149. Both programs have a deep history of pitchers getting selected into the professional ranks.
The Lancers’ Tyson Miller was a fourth-round pick of the Chicago Cubs last season and lefty Jeremy McDonald was selected in the 27th round by the Washington Nationals. UCR left-handed ace Austin Sodders was taken in the seventh round last season by the Detroit Tigers.
Some projections have King as the top Division II selection this year. The transfer from Nebraska, where he was named to the Big 10 All-Freshman Team in 2015, finished 7-1 with a 2.33 ERA this season for CBU. He earned PacWest Newcomer of the Year and was a first-team all-region selection, but did not pitch the final two weeks of the season due to tightness in his forearm. Coach Gary Adcock said the decision to sit King was precautionary and that he probably would have pitched if the team advanced out of the NCAA DII West Regional. CBU went 1-2 in the regional.
Lillie, a former catcher, was the most versatile thrower on the Highlanders staff. He’s bounced around from starter to closer during his career and this season he started 10 games in his 20 appearances. He finished 2-7 with a 4.69 ERA and four saves.
While the stats might not be impressive, Lillie’s arm was enough to draw scouts as he moved back into the starting role. He has a mid-90s fastball and a tough slider as evidenced by his team-leading 80 strikeouts in 71 innings.
El Camino College catcher Trevor Casanova, who played at Corona Centennial, is No. […]