ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico baseball team had three players selected in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft. It was a good draft for the Lobos, but nothing like that 2013 draft that saw a program-record seven players selected. Several former Lobos are playing well in the minor leagues and are probably due for a promotion sometime in the near future. Let’s take a look at the seasons the “Class of ‘13” is having in its first full season of professional baseball, beginning with the highest pick in UNM history.
DJ Peterson – First round, Seattle Mariners, 12th overall
Peterson saw his 2013 minor-league season come to an early end after being struck in the face by a pitch and suffering a broken jaw. He is fully recovered now, though, and is tearing the cover off the ball for the High-A High Desert Mavericks. He currently leads the California League in RBIs with 71 and in slugging at .610, is second with 17 home runs and is third with 23 doubles. He’s hitting .327 overall and .419 over his last 10 games, which includes a nine-game hitting streak during which he has eight multi-hit games. Peterson now has 30 home runs in 119 minor league games over three levels. His play has not gone unnoticed in Seattle, which is expected to promote him to Double-A sometime this season.
Sam Wolff – Sixth round, Texas Rangers, 190th overall
Wolff began his professional career as a reliever, going 4-0 with a 0.60 ERA and five saves in 21 relief appearances last season. But at High-A Myrtle Beach he has moved back into the rotation. He is tied for the league lead in wins as part of a 7-3 record with a 2.60 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 79.2 innings. His 1.07 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) is third in the league, and opponents are hitting just .206 off him Over his last four starts he has allowed just two runs on 13 hits in 22.2 innings. He has pitched so well this season that he is getting wins even when he’s not striking anyone out.
Mitch Garver – Ninth round, Minnesota Twins, 260th overall
After a decent start to the season for the Class-A Cedar Rapids Kernels in the Midwest League, Garver slumped a little in May, but he has picked up his play in June and is now hitting .310 with 17 doubles, eight home runs and 47 RBIs. He has also drawn 33 walks to boast an on-base percentage of .411, which is good for fourth in the league. Garver also ranks seventh in the league in batting, sixth in RBIs and tied for 11th in doubles. He has reached base in 28 straight games but was snubbed from the All Star Game. Among all Twins farmhands, he ranks near the top in several offensive categories.
Alex Allbritton – 21st round, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 637th overall
With three top 10-round picks ahead of him, not many would have expected Allbritton to be the first to jump up to Double-A, but he made that leap in May for five games. He hit .235 (4-for-17) during his stint with a pair of doubles. For most of the season, however, Allbritton has been in the California League. A 4-for-30 slide has dropped his average to .220, but he does have 10 doubles and a triple on the season for the Inland Empire 66ers.
Will Mathis – 25th round, Seattle Mariners, 747th overall
Perhaps the biggest surprise from the Lobos’ draft class, Mathis has been phenomenal as a teammate of Peterson’s for the High Desert Mavericks. He is 4-2 with a 2.52 ERA and four saves in 23 relief appearances in what is generally considered a hitter’s league. Over 35.2 innings he has struck out 28 and is holding opponents under the Mendoza Line at a .186 batting average against. Despite pitching at “elevation” (High Desert plays its home games at about 2,900 feet, much lower than Albuquerque’s 5,200), Mathis has been tremendous at home, posting a 3-0 record, a 0.93 ERA and is holding opponents to a .169 average in 19.1 innings.
Jake McCasland – 26th round, San Francisco Giants, 792nd overall
McCasland got a late start to the season due to the fact that he is playing for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the Short Season Northwest League, so he has only appeared in four games, all in relief. He has struck out six in 4.0 innings, though, and allowed two runs on just three hits. He is doing very well against righties, striking out a third of the 15 right-handed batters he has faced.
Josh Melendez – 37th round, Houston Astros, 1,097th overall
Melendez elected not to sign with the Astros. A Mountain West Scholar-Athlete, and a 2011 Academic All-American while playing for Gateway Community College, he returned to UNM to complete his studies. He graduated with a degree in chemical engineering this spring.