June 2, 2011
PULLMAN, Wash. - The 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft will be held June 6-8 and several Washington State Cougars are waiting to find out where their professional career will begin.
Leading the draft-eligible Cougars are three underclassmen who, if selected, could elect to come back to Pullman. Left-handed pitcher Adam Conley had been projected as high as a sandwich pick (a selection between the first and second rounds). A junior, Conley led Washington State with six wins in 2011 and posted a 3.50 ERA to go along with nearly seven strikeouts per nine innings.
The heart of the Washington State offense is also draft eligible in junior outfielder Derek Jones and redshirt-sophomore first baseman Taylor Ard who batted 3-4 in the Cougar order most of the season. Jones has 32 home runs in his career, including eight in 2011, and hit .317 in Pacific-10 Conference games this season. Ard led the Pac-10 regular season with 10 home runs and 55 RBI to go along with a team-leading .337 batting average and 17 doubles.
A handful of seniors also hope to hear their name called during the draft. Third baseman Matt Argyropoulos batted .283 with 17 extra-base hits and 28 RBI. Right-handed pitcher Chad Arnold, who was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in last year's draft, finished his Cougar career ranked in the Washington State top 10 for games started, innings pitched and strikeouts. Infielder Cody Bartlett hit .283 with 12 doubles and 25 RBI and stole six bases in 2011. Right-handed pitcher James Wise started 15 games, recorded a 4.15 ERA and struck out 70 batters in 86 and two-thirds innings. Left-handed pitcher Paris Shewey tied for the Pac-10 regular season lead with 10 saves and led Washington State with 23 appearances.
The Cougars currently have 13 players in the affiliated minor leagues: Josh Ashenbrenner (WSU, 2007, Detroit Tigers organization); Eddie Bonine (2002, Philadelphia Phillies); Alex Burg (2008-09, San Francisco Giants); Paul Gran (2006-08, Florida Marlins); Seth Harvey (2007-10, Milwaukee Brewers); Mark Hendrickson (1995, Baltimore Orioles); Jim Murphy (2005-08, Phillies); Matt Oye (2005-06, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim); Jared Prince (2006-09, Texas Rangers); Shea Vucinich (2008-10, Brewers), Matt Way (2006-09, Phillies), Travis Webb (2005-06, Cincinnati Reds) and Michael Weber (2007-10, Arizona Diamondbacks). In addition, Jesse Hoorelbeke (1997) is with the independent Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. All-time, Washington State has produced over 200 professional players.
Entering this season, Washington State owns the third-longest active streak with at least one player in MLB. The Cougars have had at least one player in MLB every season from 1948-2010 (63 years). Only USC (72 seasons, 1939-2010) and Oklahoma (66, 1945-2010) have an active run longer the Washington State. The 63-straight seasons ties the Cougars for fifth all-time with Holy Cross (1884-1946) right behind Fordham (64, 1889-1952) and Seton Hall (64, 1946-2009).