Diamondbacks draft FPU's Darrah

The Arizona Diamondbacks made Fresno Pacific pitcher Jesse Darrah the team's eighth round pick on Tuesday, making him the Valley's first four-year college player to go off the board in the MLB Amateur Draft.
 

Darrah, who was one of the most dominant pitchers in the NAIA and set FPU's school record for strikeouts in a season with 101, was also the first player that pitched in the NAIA this year to be selected.

After watching the draft with friends and family all morning and getting several calls and text messages from teams, Darrah heard his name called by Arizona with the third pick of the 8th round.

"It was kind of surprising to be honest," said an excited Darrah, who mentioned that other teams had showed more interest in the weeks leading up to the draft. "I knew they liked me, but we didn't have all that much contact up until today. It was a bit unexpected, but I'm ecstatic."

Darrah said getting this opportunity was like a dream come true, and that he's eager to get started.

"I know that they have an absolutely gorgeous new spring training facility," said Darrah. "They have a young up-and-coming team with a lot of good players. I'm hoping I can make it up there and help them out in a couple years."

The Diamondbacks had shown initial interest after seeing Darrah throw on the team's scout day, then had one meeting with the Sunbirds' right-hander a couple months ago before making it clear early on Tuesday that they had targeted him.

FPU head coach Oscar Hirschkorn said the Diamondbacks are getting a high-quality pitcher.

"The D'Backs are getting a pitcher with a legitimate chance to play in the big leagues," said Hirschkorn. "More importantly they're getting a great kid with a great work ethic. I'm really proud of him. With all the work he put in and the progress he made, it's great to see that pay off."

Darrah went 7-1 for the Sunbirds this season with a 2.44 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings. His fastball sits at 91-95 mph and he has three pro-ready pitches, including a phenomenal changeup.

His selection at 244th overall made him the highest pick in Fresno Pacific baseball history. He's set to join Chris Schwinden, who's pitching at the Triple-A level in the New York Mets' organization, as former Sunbirds in the minor leagues.

Being drafted by the Diamondbacks also sets up Darrah for a potential return to the Valley, as Arizona's Class A-Advanced minor league affiliate is the Visalia Rawhide. The organization's Triple-A team is in Reno and plays in the same league (PCL) as the Fresno Grizzlies.

"It's exciting, especially for my friends and family, that I could have several opportunities to play in the area," said Darrah.

Arizona's other minor league affiliates include Mobile, Alabama (Double-A) and South Bend, Indiana (Single-A). Their short-season single-A team, where many college draftees start out after signing, is in Yakima, Washington. They also have rookie-level teams in Missoula, Montana and at their spring training facility in Arizona.

Darrah got an early taste of minor league ball this season when FPU played an exhibition with the Fresno Grizzlies, getting three innings of work. In that game he struck out Darren Ford, Conor Gillaspie and Chris Stewart, all who have spent time with the San Francisco Giants this season.

Darrah was selected eight picks before the first Fresno State player went off the board, as shortstop Daniel Muno was selected by the Mets. The only NAIA player taken before Darrah was one who didn't play at all at the NAIA level, as San Diego State transfer and Oklahoma City red-shirt Ryan O'Sullivan went in the fourth round to the Dodgers.

Later in the day, Cal Baptist pitcher Taylor Siemens was also selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Siemens was the second GSAC player taken, behind Darrah, and went in the 18th round. Darrah out-dueled Siemens in a battle of the GSAC's top two pitchers in March, throwing a two-hit shutout against the Lancers.

Fresno State infielder Garrett Weber will also join Darrah in the Arizona farm system, after being selected by the D'Backs in the 22nd round, as will Truman Sample, another NAIA pitcher (28th round, Rogers State).

The Diamondbacks, who have struggled in the area of starting pitching in the last couple years, added a ton of depth to their farm system this week by taking two pitchers in the draft's top 10 picks, UCLA's Trevor Bauer and Broken Arrow High School product Archie Bradley. They then selected four more NCAA Division 1 pitchers before taking Darrah in the 8th round.

The Diamondbacks will now look to sign Darrah and assign him to one of those teams. Check fpuathletics.com in the coming weeks for further coverage as we follow Darrah's "road to the show".
 

Source

http://news.fresno.edu/node/3501