June 8, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico baseball team had four more players drafted on the final day of the MLB Draft Saturday to give the team seven total over the three-day draft, which set a school record for most players drafted in a single season.
Senior Alex Allbritton was taken by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 21st round, senior Will Mathis was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 25th round, Jake McCasland was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 26th round, and Josh Melendez was the first pick of the 37th round by the Houston Astros.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Allbritton who had never been drafted before and was the 637th overall pick. “I was unsure going into today if it would happen, but I’m thankful the Angels showed the confidence in me to draft me.”
One of two four-year seniors on the Lobos, Albritton had a career year in 2013 and was named to the All-Mountain West first team. He hit .312 with 64 hits, two home runs and 39 RBI, all career highs. He played in 224 games as a Lobo, tied for fourth most in UNM history.
Mathis, who went No. 747 overall, had a bit of bad luck on the mound this season but still has big-league stuff with a low-to-mid 90s fastball and devastating slider.
“I feel like all my hard work has paid off finally,” he said.
McCasland was the only junior among the four Lobos drafted Saturday and experienced a late start to his season due to an elbow injury, but he came on strong late and was one of the most valuable arms out of UNM’s bullpen in the postseason. He posted a 1-1 record with one save and a 4.74 ERA in a career-high 17 relief appearances. The Giants also drafted him in the 38th round when he was coming out of Piedra Vista HS in Farmington, N.M. in 2010.
Melendez was also an All-Mountain West first team performer after hitting .329 with 15 doubles, five triples, three home runs, 41 RBI, 47 runs and 13 stolen bases.
“I’m so proud of all the guys that have been drafted,” said Mitch Garver who was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the ninth round Friday. “I’m really excited for those guys.”
The Lobos have now had 22 players drafted, with six going in the top 10 rounds, in head coach Ray Birmingham’s six seasons at the helm, including the three highest single-year totals: seven this year, six in 2009 and five in 2010.
Birmingham is proud of all his players who were drafted, but the reality of losing players every season to the draft is a constant threat.
"I was hoping it'd be eight," he said in reference to senior Luke Campbell who went undrafted but is expected to be signed as a free agent. "It speaks volumes that coming to the University of New Mexico is a good door to professional baseball. Kids improve their rounds and kids that have never been drafted get drafted. The work ethic and blue-collar attitude that is Lobo baseball is what makes these kids become professional baseball players. That's obviously attractive to MLB teams.
“Kids know that they can come to the University of New Mexico, get better, and get drafted,” he continued. “But it’s a double-edged sword. We lose guys (to the draft) every year. If I can get to where I can keep the top New Mexico boys for four straight years, I’ve got a chance to do something special here.”
Note: The Lobos also had five players drafted in 1985.
2013 UNM DRAFT PICKS
|DJ Peterson||1st||12||Seattle Mariners|
|Sam Wolff||6th||190||Texas Rangers|
|Mitch Garver||9th||260||Minnesota Twins|
|Alex Allbritton||21st||637||LA Angels of Anaheim|
|Will Mathis||25th||747||Seattle Mariners|
|Jake McCasland||26th||792||San Francisco Giants|
|Josh Melendez||37th||1,097||Houston Astros|