Sitting in his garage with friends and family Wednesday night, Valencia High alum and University of Hawaii pitcher Dylan Thomas received some big news that he has been waiting on as long as he could remember.
“I was just sitting in the garage watching TV,” Thomas said. “As soon as I found out, my parents and family that I was with started to take pictures. My parents even asked me to sign a baseball for them. It was a dream come true.”
Getting selected in the 2018 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins in the 38th Round with the 1,144th selection, the right-handed pitcher couldn’t contain his excitement.
“I’m just excited to have someone believe in me enough to select me to come and play for them. I think I can do big things for them, but we’ll have to wait and see,” Thomas said.
Thomas is the second University of Hawaii player to get selected in this year’s draft along with Kekai Rios (28th Round). This marks the second consecutive year that two Rainbow Warriors were selected by an MLB organization.
“Honestly, I thought we were going to get a couple more guys because we all had a couple great years,” Thomas said. “It’s just a big deal to have anybody sign because that’s the ultimate goal of a program, to help guys move to the next level.”
In his career at U of H, the redshirt sophomore improved exponentially, posting a total ERA of 1.91 in 43 appearances, getting 23 saves in 61.1 innings pitched with a 63:9 strikeout to walk ratio.
The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association’s Stopper of the Year semifinalist was 11th in the nation in saves, tying a U of H single-season record with 14 saves in 18 opportunities and ended his sophomore campaign with a team-leading 1.85 ERA, striking out 43 batters in 39 innings of work.
Joining numerous ex-teammates and friends from the Santa Clarita Valley as well as from his old Valencia stomping grounds, Thomas is the 23rd Viking to be selected in the MLB draft in the past 13 years.
“I think this is huge for the Vikings’ program,” Thomas said. “…I’m extremely thankful to have them and the amount of stuff that they taught me. I owe a huge part of my success to them.”
After taking an early morning flight to Boston, Thomas heads to Cape Cod to play for a Twins affiliate and be evaluated by the more of the Twins with negotiations still pending.
“I’m going to play in front of more of their spotters and scouts since I didn’t get too much exposure being all the way out in Hawaii,” Thomas said. “But I’m just taking everything in stride for the moment.
“If things don’t work out, I still have next year.”
Willing to play any position that the Twins would like him to, Thomas thinks that he can move back into a starting job, a position that he had great success with in high school.
“I definitely think that if they want me in the closing position I think I will have success at it,” he said. “I would like to get back to starting and if I go back to school I will try that, but with my velocity and command I’m confident I can make it in the majors as a starter.”