When the dust settled after the 2019 MLB First-Year Player Draft, six players with Santa Clarita Valley ties were selected.
Former Hart pitcher and current UCLA Bruin Jack Ralston was the first to be drafted, going in the seventh round to the St. Louis Cardinals with the No. 215 pick.
Ralston helped UCLA get the No. 1 seed in the NCAA baseball tournament, going 11-1 with 107 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.55 in 16 starts during the current season.
University of Hawaii pitcher and Valencia alum Dylan Thomas was selected by the Minnesota Twins with the No. 389 pick in the 13th round.
Over the last three seasons, Thomas made 63 appearances with an overall record of 8-6 and a 1.96 ERA. He collected 27 saves, 14 of which came in 2018, and totaled 122 strikeouts in 115 innings pitched.
A pair of Mustangs were drafted next, with Aaron Shackelford heading to the Pittsburgh Pirates after they selected him with the No. 424 pick in the 14th round. His Master’s University teammate and former Viking Anthony Lepre was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 28th round with the No. 846 pick.
Shackelford was recently named the 2019 NAIA Player of the Year after a season in which he led the NAIA in multiple categories including slugging percentage (1.096) runs scored (83), RBIs (99), home runs (36) and total bases (206).
Serving as the Mustangs’ starting catcher, Lepre hit 28 home runs in 2019 and also broke the single-season record for hits with 91 total.
A third Valencia alumnus was picked next, as Cole Kleszcz was drafted by the New York Mets with the No. 988 pick in the 33rd round.
After playing at Valencia, College of the Canyons and the University of California, Santa Barbara, Kleszcz ended up at Azusa Pacific University, where he led the team in RBIs (63) and home runs (27) in his junior year.
The last SCV alumnus to be drafted was Saugus grad and former COC pitcher Chase Wheatcroft, who went to the Oakland Athletics with the No. 1,124 pick in the 37th round.
The right-handed pitcher transferred to California State University Stanislaus after two years at Canyons, where he started 28 total games, going 14-3 in 156 innings of action.
In his two-year career at Stanislaus, Wheatcroft went 6-4 with an ERA of 2.64. He also was utilized as a closer, racking up 11 saves this past season. Overall, Wheatcraft pitched a total of 75.7 innings with 55 strikeouts.