The then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays took a tall right-hander from the Santa Clarita Valley in the 16th round of the 2000 June Amateur Draft. It’s safe to say Hart High graduate James Shields worked out pretty well.
Friday, the Rays selected another tall SCV righty. The result: We’ll see.
Tampa Bay snagged Valencia High graduate J.D. Busfield, a junior right-hander at Loyola Marymount University, in the seventh round (210th overall) of the MLB First-Year Player Draft, making it 13 straight years a player with ties to the Vikings has heard his name called.
“I’m really excited to get drafted by the Rays,” Busfield told The Signal. “They’re a great organization, especially for pitching.”
Tampa Bay has consistently stocked its pitching rotation with solid arms over the last decade, including starters like Shields, David Price and Scott Kazmir.
Busfield, a 6-foot-7-inch righty with a fastball that has reached 95 MPH, went 5-4 with a 4.08 ERA as a starter for the Lions this season, one year after setting the school’s single-season saves record with 14.
Despite what Busfield admitted were “mixed results,” he sees himself as a starter, and the Rays, he said, agree.
Player and organization also agree on the numbers for a contract, Busfield said.
“I’m pretty confident that I will start my pro career with the Rays,” he said, adding that they’d come to an agreement.
The Rays selected Valencia grad Devin Davis in the 25th round in last year’s draft, signing him a few weeks later. Davis was part of a busy third and final draft day for players with SCV ties. Eight were chosen.
Busfield was the only local player to hear his name on Friday’s Day 2, but players like UCLA junior and former Hart player Luke Persico should go somewhere in the final 30 rounds Saturday.
The fewest SCV players drafted in a year since 2009 was four in 2013.
Busfield, who watched the draft on MLB.com at home with his family in Valencia, said his phone started ringing before the third round Friday, with teams suggesting they might select him.
“It’s definitely like a roller coaster,” Busfield said. “You get really excited thinking it’s going to happen, and then you don’t hear your name and have to wait and see.”
Busfield went 7-2 with a 1.60 ERA as a senior at Valencia in 2013, earning co-Foothill League Pitcher of the Year honors. He struck out 69 and walked six in 74 1/3 innings.
“He’s an extremely hard worker, super competitive,” said Valencia head coach Mike Killinger, who was an assistant when Busfield played for the Vikings. “He turned himself into a high draft pick just by extra work and doing all the little things you have to do.
“Great kid, great family, can’t be happier for the kid.”