NWL Baseball: Stinnett, Suchy top Stingers available in this week’s draft
WILLMAR — It will be hard to top last year’s selection of Hunter Dozier as the No. 8 overall pick in Major League Baseball’s draft, but the Willmar Stingers could have several former players off the board in the early rounds of this year’s draft.
Rounds 1 and 2 start today, with rounds 3-10 on Friday and rounds 11-40 on Saturday.
In the most recent Baseball America rankings, Maryland righthander Jake Stinnett landed at No. 67 overall in their annual Top 500 draft prospect list, and Florida Gulf Coast outfielder Michael Suchy came in at No. 216 overall.
Stinnett is 7-6 with a 2.65 ERA for Maryland this year, and has 130 strikeouts in 112 innings pitched.
Stingers’ co-owner Ryan Voz said Stinnett was still a two-way player as a freshman for Willmar in 2011.
“He came on board and led the Northwoods League real early on in batting average,” Voz said. “But all along everyone thought pitching was going to be his upside. At some point someone convinced him he needed to focus on one or the other.”
Stinnett was drafted in the 29th round last year by the Pittsburgh Pirates but didn’t sign, a gamble that’s looking like it will pay off as he could go as high as the second round this time around.
“He’s got a major league arm on him,” Voz said. “As long as he stays healthy, he’s got a high ceiling.”
Suchy may have benefitted even more than Stinnett from his time in Willmar. The two-time NWL All-Star came on board in 2012 as a freshman who hadn’t hit much in limited time at FGCU.
“He ended up being one of the top players in the league,” Voz said. “Then, to follow that up with a similar type of season is very difficult to do.”
The 6-foot-4 outfielder hit .318 with eight homers in 239 at-bats this spring, slugging .519 and driving in 49 runs.
There are almost 50 current and former Stingers who are draft eligible — juniors and seniors from four-year schools, junior college players and anyone over the age of 21 are eligible.
Other notable names include Hawaii first baseman and last year’s Northwoods League co-MVP Marc Flores, Kentucky third baseman Max Kuhn, Florida Gulf Coast infielder/pitcher Zack Tillery, Loyola Marymount pitcher Bret Dahlson and St. Cloud State pitcher Kyle Fischer.
“Stinnett is probably our top guy to go, Suchy No. 2, and then who knows,” Voz said. “You’d think somebody would take a chance on Flores.”
Along with Dozier, 15 former Stingers were taken in the 2013 draft.
“We might see that number again,” Voz said. “I don’t think it’ll happen every year. To have Dozier and then 14 other guys is going to be a tough year to beat.”
The Stingers currently only have a few draft-eligible players on the current roster, including Brady Anderson, Hutton Moyer, Josh Matheson and Sam Hall.
“There are a lot of guys who deserve to get drafted,” Voz said. “But I don’t think we have any guys currently who are going to get drafted high enough that will sign like we did last year.”