Three Pacific baseball players selected in 2022 MLB Draft
Pacific University sent three of its baseball players to MLB last week in the 2022 draft. Junior infielder Thomas Gavello was selected in the 13th round by the San Francisco Giants, junior pitcher Hunter Hayes was drafted in the 16th round by the St. Louis Cardinals and in the 18th round senior pitcher Elijah Birdsong was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Tigers haven’t had three players drafted into MLB since 2019.
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“It’s a real blessing,” Gavello said in a press release. “All the hard work of the coaches, staff and support from my teammates will never be forgotten. Pacific will always hold a special place in my heart.”
In his final season as a Tiger, Gavello led his team in home runs, RBIs, extra hits, walks and stolen bases. This stellar season earned him a spot on the Perfect Game All-WCC team and D1 baseball preseason top 50 third baseman list. Although he played third base for the Pacific all three years, he was drafted as a catcher and will likely continue to play for the Giants’ rookie tier or the San Jose Giants’ Single-A affiliate.
On the mound, Pacifics head coach Chris Rodriguez asked Hayes and Birdsong to split the load for the Tigers.
Hayes finished last season leading pitchers with 55 strikeouts, throwing a fastball that can reach the upper 90s. He was one of 13 pitchers selected by the Cardinals, so he’ll likely join one of its rookie league teams in the Florida Complex League, Dominican Summer League or Single-A Palm Beach Cardinals.
Birdsong missed his junior season due to recovering from Tommy John surgery – a reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament on the elbow that is common among baseball players. His goal last season was to return to rotation. That’s exactly what he did as he was the starting pitcher on opening day this season, rekindling his dream of making it to the pros.
“This is something I have prayed and worked for day in and day out for as long as I can remember,” he said in a press release. “I wouldn’t have gotten to this point without God, my mom, and the rest of my support system supporting me. This is just the beginning of realizing my dream of playing Major League Baseball.
He is likely to join the Pirates FCL Rookie League team or the Single-A Bradenton Marauders.
“I couldn’t be happier for Tommy, Hunter and Elijah,” Rodriguez said. “These three mean what it’s like to be a Tiger! I wish them all the best and know they are ready for whatever challenges they will face.”
Record journalist Shannon Belt covers the sport. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ShannonBelt3. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at https://www.recordnet.com/subscribenow.