After the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft last Monday-Wednesday, one thing became clear — the Michigan baseball team will face a tall task next year.
Five Wolverines were chosen in the MLB Draft, with three having another year of eligibility remaining.
Junior outfielder Ryan LaMarre, junior right-handers Matt Miller and Tyler Burgoon, senior right-hander Alan Oaks and senior catcher Chris Berset went in the second, fifth, eighth, tenth and twentieth rounds respectively. As of this past weekend, LaMarre, Miller and Oaks had inked deals.
LaMarre reached terms on a contract with the Cincinnati Reds, who selected him with the 62nd overall pick. The junior star was out for 18 games this year because of a broken thumb but still managed to belt five home runs and collect 40 RBI, leading the team in hitting, on-base percentage and slugging. He was named First Team All-Big Ten for his efforts.
“This is definitely a dream,” LaMarre said. “The Reds (are) a great program, and I’m glad to be a part of it now. I feel like (Michigan coach Rich Maloney) and myself did quite a bit of work and that Michigan prepared me both mentally and physically for professional baseball.”
The Jackson native reported to the Dayton Dragons, the Reds’ Low-Single A affiliate. LaMarre’s signing officially means that he will forego his senior season at Michigan to begin his professional career.
“Losing (LaMarre) in particular is huge,” Maloney said on Saturday night. “He is a great player and has a legitimate shot at the big leagues. It’s hard to replace a player like that. But he had a great experience at Michigan. LaMarre has something special. His makeup is different.”
Miller, too, will skip his senior year. He signed with the Milwaukee Brewers, and will join the Helena Brewers of the Rookie-ball Pioneer League, which opens its season on June 21. He was perhaps Michigan’s most talented pitcher, but couldn’t consistently perform this season. Pitching mostly as a midweek starter, Miller went 3-3 with a 5.06 ERA.
“Matt Miller is a late riser,” Maloney said. “A lot of times in pro baseball, they hope some players emerge (later) in their career. Miller may do that.”
The Wolverine senior class also saw success in this year’s draft.
Ace pitcher Alan Oaks was picked by the Florida Marlins. Oaks struck out 71 batters his final year as a Wolverine and recorded six wins, which tied him with Burgoon for the team lead. The high school hockey player joked in an interview with The Michigan Daily on Saturday night about taking advantage of his additional year of eligibility in a different sport and staying in Ann Arbor to play for Red Berenson, but he said that he has reached terms with the Marlins.
Berset followed LaMarre in the lineup and coincidentally may also follow him to Cincinnati. The Reds drafted him as well and have offered Berset a contract, which he had not yet signed as of Saturday. The co-captain enjoyed a breakout senior season and was a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award, named for the former Red and given to the best collegiate catcher in the nation.
Maloney says that despite their amateur success, the senior pair of Oaks and Berset have a long way to go to make it to the big leagues.
“They have to continue to get better,” Maloney said. “If Alan pitches like he did at Michigan, he won’t make it. For the pros, all these guys are good players. It is so highly competitive and it is cutthroat. Alan has the makings of good stuff but it is going to have to get better. And so will Chris.”
The Seattle Mariners picked Burgoon, who was the Wolverines’ closer, recording 10 saves this season and was named Second Team All-Big Ten. Burgoon had not yet decided whether to sign or return to school for his senior year.
“He hasn’t made a decision yet,” Maloney said. “I think he may sign but he hasn’t told me anything. I think he will make a decision sometime early next week.”
Though Michigan finished second place in the conference, the team’s five draftees were the most in the Big Ten. It was the most for the program since five Wolverines were also selected in 2008.
“It’s great to have five players drafted for our program,” Maloney said. “That means that our guys are making some improvements and that our guys work hard. That means people are recognizing our program. I’m happy for the guys, because this is their dream.”