Major League Baseball held its annual First-Year Player Draft this week and four players from Nazarene schools were chosen — the most since a record five were taken in 2009.
Clayton Brandt (MidAmerica Nazarene University), Josh Altmann (Olivet Nazarene University), Hunter Newman (Trevecca Nazarene University), and Jake Reppert (Northwest Nazarene University) join the list of at least 66 others as MLB draftees from Nazarene schools since the draft started in 1965.
Brandt, a senior shortstop at MNU from Stewardson, Illinois, was taken by the Washington Nationals in the 19th round. In 57 games this spring, the Pioneer leadoff man hit .417 with a nation-best 81 runs, MNU-record 86 hits, 19 doubles, six triples, seven homers, 43 RBIs, a .670 slugging percentage, a .492 on base percentage, a 1.162 OPS, and an MNU-record 41 steals. He is currently on the roster for the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League.
“I saw my name pop up on the draft board,” Brandt told mnusports.com. “It was so surreal. I had to do a double-take to make sure. It was a type of excitement that I can't explain. I just prayed to the Lord and thanked Him for this and said ‘Your plan is what I want’ and just sat at my locker and smiled. I immediately told my parents and grandparents.” (For more on Brandt, click here.)
Altmann, a junior infielder at Olivet from Homer Glen, Illinois, was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 22nd round (648 overall). He batted a team-leading .432 this season and was named to the CCAC All-Conference First Team for a second time. Altmann started all 50 games and played all four infield positions. He had 67 hits (led team) and 15 doubles, two triples, and six homeruns (led team). He also had 23 walks (led team), 16 HBP (led team), 49 runs (led team), 104 total bases (led team), 36 RBIs (led team), and 23 stolen bases (led team). He finished with a .671 slugging percentage (led team) and .535 OBP (led team), and had 195 putouts (led team) with a .962 fielding percentage.
“Right now, I am at a loss for words,” Altmann said in an Olivet Athletics story. “This moment has been a dream come true for me since I started playing the game. Moving forward from here, I look to continue with the hard work and run with this opportunity. I don’t lose focus that there is still a ways to go in the organization, but I am going to put in the work.” (For more on Altmann, click here.)
Newman, a junior third baseman at Trevecca from Chapmansboro, Tennessee, was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 22nd round with the 671st pick. He is a Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings All-American. The Goodpasture Christian School product made the second team and added this honor to a laundry list of accolades from various organizations this season. He is a third-team member of the 2015 Daktronics All-American team, making him the first Trevecca or Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) player to make that team. Two organizations, the ABCA/Rawlings and Daktronics, named him their 2015 Midwest Player of the Year. He is the 2015 G-MAC Player of the Year, a G-MAC first team all-conference selection, a ABCA/Rawlings Midwest Region first team honoree, a Daktronics Midwest Region first teamer, and honored as a NCBWA Midwest Region first team member.
Newman hit .451 and led the Trojans and the G-MAC in batting average, home runs (18), runs batted in (77), slugging percentage (.877), on-base percentage (.558), total bases (171), walks (39) and tied for the lead in hit by pitches (13). His 18 home runs were 11th best in Division II.
“It was the most amazing phone call I've ever gotten,” Newman told tnutrojans.com. “I owe so much to coach (Ryan) Schmalz, coach (Nachion) Moore, coach (Luke) Brown, coach (Mark) Rayburn, and coach (Brad) Coon. I wouldn't have this chance if it wasn't for them working with me on and off the field. I want to thank God so much for giving me this opportunity! I'm going to miss playing with all of my boys at Trevecca, but they are going to do great things next year and I can't wait to watch how they do!" (For more on Newman, click here.)
Reppert, a pitcher at NNU from Monroe, Washington, was taken by the Philadelphia Philies in the 27th round, 804th overall. The 6-foot-5 lefty, who earned honorable mention All-GNAC honors and was named to the GNAC All-Academic Team this past year, set a single-season NNU record for complete-game shutouts (2) and finished with 111 innings, striking out 101 batters, compiling a 4.86 ERA, and limiting opposing batters to a .288 batting average.
"It's absolutely a dream come true and a moment I will never forget," Reppert said in a story from NNU Athletics. He graduated with a degree in Communication: Public Relations last month and helped NNU's baseball team to its first postseason berth since 1992. (For more on Reppert, click here.)
This year marks the first time a player from a Nazarene school was drafted since 2013, when the Cleveland Indians took Olivet pitcher Ben Heller in the 22nd round, and the most since 2009 (five).
Five Nazarene MLB draftees have made the major leagues: Mike Ekstrom (Point Loma Nazarene University, with San Diego Padres in 2008), Marty McLeary (Mount Vernon Nazarene University, with Padres in 2004), Tim Belcher (drafted twice out of MVNU, with Los Angeles Dodgers in 1987), Marty Decker (PLNU, with Padres in 1983), and Mike Overy (Olivet, with California Angels in 1976). Others, such as current Oakland A’s infielder/outfielder and former Olivet Tiger Ben Zobrist, played at a Nazarene school but were drafted out of another university after transferring.
For every Nazarene MLB draftee, see baseball-reference.com.