Four Kats taken in MLB Draft

Published: Jun. 5, 2019 at 8:39 PM CDT
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It was a big week for the Sam Houston State Bearkats with four players selected as part of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Hayden Wesneski (Round 6/Pick 195, New York Yankees), Jordan Cannon (Round 10/Pick 288, Baltimore Orioles), Nick Mikolajchak (Round 11/Pick 340, Cleveland Indians) and Hunter Hearn (Round 26/Pick 780, Philadelphia Phillies) all had their name called.

The four players taken were the most of any Southland Conference school this year, and the most for the program since five players were selected in 2015. It is the first time since the 1966 draft that the Bearkats had three players taken within the first 350 picks.

It gives SHSU 64 draftees in its program history with 21 coming since 2014, 16 of which have come in the Matt Deggs’ era.

Wesneski was the second Southland Conference player to be selected in the draft and the 61st all-time in Bearkat history to be drafted. With the New York Yankees taking him in the sixth round, he is just the sixth Kat to be selected in the first 10 rounds since 1989.

The right-hander has been one of the top arms in the history of the program, going 25-9 with a 3.56 ERA and 224 strikeouts in 288.0 career innings in his three years since joining the team in 2017. He went 10-2 in 19 total appearances in his first year as a Bearkat after coming to the team from Cy Fair HS, picking up three wins against top-25 opponents with his 10th win of the year coming in relief vs Arizona in the Lubbock Regional where he tossed 6.0 innings against the Wildcats.

He was named the Southland Conference Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball in 2017 and followed that up by being named to the all-SLC second team in 2018 after going 7-3 with 67 strikeouts in 97.2 innings. He made 16 starts on the weekend as a sophomore, leading the Kats to the first of back-to-back Southland Conference championships.

In 2019 he put together the best year of his career, going 8-4 with a career-low 3.32 ERA while leading the Southland in both strikeouts (110) and innings pitched (105.2). Five times he punched out at least 10 hitters in a game as a junior, including a career-high 13 in a complete game win at New Orleans in mid-March.

His 110 strikeouts in 2019 is the second most in a single season in Bearkat history, while his 224 career punchouts ranks fourth all-time.

Cannon has been a key part of the Kats attack for the past four years, and was primarily used as a pitcher for his first two seasons; however, he made the switch to full-time catcher in 2018 and had a breakout season as a senior in 2019.

He was selected with the first pick of the 10th round by the Orioles, the 195th selection overall, after earning second team all-Southland Conference honors this season. He split time behind the plate, outfield and designated hitter in 2019 and finished the year tied for second in the Southland with a .372 average. He also added a dozen doubles, four homers, two triples and 37 RBI while leading the Kats with 14 stolen bases.

His .458 on-base percentage ranked second in the league and was huge in SLC play, driving in 22 of his 37 runs in league contests.

Mikolajchak was the third Bearkat taken when the Cleveland Indians selected him in the 11th round and 340th overall pick on Wednesday.

The right-handed pitcher from Klein Collins HS has been a part of some of the biggest Bearkat moments of the last three years since joining the team in 2017, but none bigger than near the end of his freshman campaign when he earned three saves at the Lubbock Regional, including in back-to-back games against the Red Raiders to close out the week.

He finished with 13 saves that year and has 22 for his career, just one shy of the career record at SHSU. Over the last two years he has been used in multiple roles for the Bearkats, making 46 appearances and 16 starts in that span.

For his career Mikolajchak has posted a 3.93 ERA with 11 victories and 162 strikeouts in 167.0 innings of work. He was stellar in the final two months of the season in 2019 when he went 5-1 with five saves in 15 appearances after March 30, striking out 53 hitters in 40.1 innings and holding batters to a .211 average on his way to earning honorable mention all-SLC honors.

The Phillies scooped up Hearn in the 26th round, announcing him as a center fielder after the senior put together the best season of his career in 2019. A two-time all-Southland selection, Hearn earned first team honors at first base this season after setting career highs with a .336 batting average, 11 home runs, 44 runs scored, 51 RBI and a .593 slugging percentage.

He closed the year on fire, hitting safely in 13 of his final 14 games of the year with 19 RBI in that span. That included hitting for the cycle in his first four at-bats against Northwestern State in opening game of the final regular-season series of the season series of the year.

Hearn finished his four-year Bearkat career with a .310 average, 45 doubles, 11 triples, 24 home runs and 149 RBI in 226 total games. Those totals rank him in the SHSU all-time top 10 in games played, at-bats, runs, hits, RBI, home runs, triples and doubles.

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