The third and final day of the 2022 MLB draft was Tuesday, and though it might have lacked some of the atmosphere of a national television audience, two players who went to high school in the area heard their names called for the opportunity to continue their baseball careers.
Brady Hill, a 2019 graduate of Mt. Spokane and Jake Pfennigs, a 2018 grad from Post Falls, were both selected in the later rounds of the draft.
Hill, a redshirt sophomore at San Jose State, was taken in the 15th round (446 overall) by the Colorado Rockies, who also drafted him out of high school in the 39th round of the 2019 draft, when he did not sign. Though he was a two-way player for SJSU, he was drafted as a pitcher.
Pfennigs, a fourth-year junior at Oregon State, was selected by Oakland in the 13th round (394 overall). He was previously selected in the 35th round of the 2018 draft by San Diego but did not sign.
Hill hopes to sign quickly and get started at the Rockies’ Arizona League Complex soon.
“It’s truly an honor to be drafted and have the support that I’ve had my whole life with my family, friends and coaches,” Hill said. “I’m truly blessed to have that.”
Being selected by the Rockies means Hill might have an opportunity to play for the Spokane Indians, the Rockies’ High-A affiliate.
Hill wasn’t sure the Rockies would come calling again.
“It was pretty wild (Tuesday),” he said. “There were a lot of calls about who was gonna draft me. The Rockies luckily kind of came out of left field and said, ‘Hey, we’ll sign you right now.’ After a minute I realized, ‘Holy cow, that’s the Spokane Indians. That’s so full circle.’ ”
Hill, a three-year letter winner with the Wildcats, was the Greater Spokane League MVP his senior year after hitting .400 with 24 stolen bases.
He started his college career at Washington State, appearing in 15 games his freshman season, when he hit .302 with two doubles, two RBIs and 12 runs. The next season he appeared in 19 games and hit .229 with two doubles, one triple, three RBIs and nine runs scored.
But Hill still had the desire to pitch and decided his best opportunity would be to transfer.
“I played two years (at WSU) and it was good for me to see what college life was like and how college baseball worked,” Hill said. “It got to a point where I wanted to transfer out and be somewhere where I could pitch and play the field, and I knew San Jose State was the right fit for me.
“It was hard leaving everyone (at WSU), but it’s something that really worked out.”
Hill did double duty for the Spartans this season, appearing in 24 games as a pitcher and 15 as a position player. He led the Mountain West in saves with 10 and was named second-team All-Mountain West as a pitcher, while hitting .270 with 17 hits, 10 runs and three RBIs .
“We are very excited for Brady and proud of all the work he’s put in to get this opportunity,” SJSU coach Brad Sanfilippo said via release. “The Rockies could not have drafted a better athlete or person than Brady. He is a first-class individual and extremely talented on the diamond.”
Living the dream
Pfennigs, a 6-foot-7 right-hander, went 4-1 with a 3.96 ERA in 11 starts this year after going 5-0 with a 3.24 in 13 starts in 2021. On Feb. 19, he picked up the win with five scoreless innings against Gonzaga, striking out five.
“It feels good,” Pfennigs said. “Got rid of some stress finally after watching (the draft) the last two days sitting around waiting. Happy it’s behind me and I’m ready to get to work, grateful for the opportunity.”
He was a four-year letter winner at Post Falls, leading the Trojans to a third-place finish at state in 2018. He was first-team Inland Empire League and pitcher of the year as a senior and was named Idaho’s Gatorade State Player of the Year.
“This has been the dream since I was a little kid,” Pfennigs said. “I always wanted to be a professional baseball player and the fact that it’s happening doesn’t seem real right now and probably won’t until I get down to Arizona and get started.”
Pfennigs missed seven weeks to injury this season, which made his draft selection that much more satisfying.
“My personal year didn’t go as well as I wanted it to, but our team finished strong and was one game away from Omaha (College World Series). I wanted to do what I could for the team and happy I came back healthy.”
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