Present, former Stingers get call of lifetime
Every player that dons a Willmar Stinger jersey has the dream of getting a call from a major league team about being drafted. Last week, eight present and former Stingers took that call.
Kole Cottam was the first former Stinger off the board in the 2018 MLB Draft, going to the Boston Red Sox in the fourth round. Cottam played for the Stingers in 2016 following his freshman year at the University of Kentucky and led the Wildcats in 2018 with a .352 batting average and 19 home runs.
Luke Becker, Cottam's teammate at Kentucky, also heard his name on day two of the draft, with a ninth round pick to the San Diego Padres. Becker, a Fairmont, Minnesota native, played parts of three seasons with the Stingers where he played around the infield. He was drafted as a second baseman to the Padres following a strong senior season with the Wildcats, batting .286 with a .410 on-base percentage. He racked up 12 doubles, two triples and seven home runs with 37 walks.
The Oakland Athletics kicked off day three Wednesday with a trio of former Stingers, starting with right-handed pitcher Gus Varland in the 14th round. Varland played in Willmar during the 2017 season where he threw 50-2/3 innings and posted a 1.42 earned-run average with 49 strikeouts and 12 walks. In his junior season with Concordia-St. Paul, the North St. Paul native posted the second-lowest earned-run average at 1.04 in NCAA Division II, the third-lowest WHIP (0.81) and fifth-lowest hits allowed per nine (5.07).
The following round, right-handed pitcher Calvin Coker went to the A's to join his Stinger teammate. Coker was an oft-used reliever for the Auburn Tigers that utilizes a sidearm delivery to throw off opposing hitters. Coker's Auburn teammate, right-handed pitcher Casey Mize, was the No. 1 pick in the draft to the Detroit Tigers.
Oakland also selected Devin Foyle in the 17th round to complete a trio of former Stingers. Foyle played for the Stingers in 2016 between college seasons with Kansas. The switch-hitting outfielder led the Jayhawks as a junior in 2018 with a .330 batting average and 10 home runs. He also hit 17 doubles and two triples to work his way to a gaudy .578 slugging percentage. He also led the team with 12 stolen bases.
The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Cal-State Northridge's Justin Toerner in the 28th round and the Detroit Tigers drafted Jayce Vancena from Michigan in the 31st round to round out the draft for the 2016 Stingers.
Outfielder Tyler Reichenborn rounded out the draft for the Stingers with the 35th round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Reichenborn is currently with the Stingers and played in Willmar in 2017 as well.
Reichenborn, a Blaine, Minnesota, native, dominated with junior college Iowa Western this spring, hitting .418 with eight triples, five home runs, 50 RBIs, 60 runs scored and 19 stolen bases. He has parlayed that success to a strong start with the Stingers this summer, hitting 13-for-26 with two doubles, three triples and a home run in just seven games.