Last week Major League Baseball held its most important annual draft, indicating interest in more than 1,500 possible players. As far as I can tell, just two of them are Mormon, down from 6 last year.
I’ve diligently searched the list of those drafted for other Mormon players, but I wasn’t able to identify anyone as Mormon, based on articles and web pages that turned up in my searches. Of course, there are likely some who are Mormon, but I couldn’t find any indication of that.
The two LDS players drafted were both BYU players, and both were drafted in the 29th round:
- Matthew Neil (pictured above) was chosen 883rd overall in the draft by the Florida Marlins. Neil is from Phoenix, AZ, where he attended Westwood High School. He served an LDS mission to Queens, New York, is married and is currently a senior at BYU. According to BYU’s Sportsuniverse, Neil signed a contract to play for the Marlins organization over this past weekend.
- Las Vegas native Taylor Cole was chosen a few spots later (889th overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays. A graduate of Bishop Gorman High School, scouts have been after Cole since before his High School graduation, and he was drafted in 2007 (as a High School senior) in the 26th round (806th overall) by the Dodgers and in the 31st round (948th overall) of the 2008 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, both prior to serving an LDS mission to Toronto. Although he is just a sophomore at BYU, Cole also signed with the Diamondbacks this past weekend, according to Sportsuniverse.
While it does make sense that fewer LDS players would be drafted this year, after an extraordinary year last year, I didn’t expect just two players drafted, and I suspect that other drafted players are Mormon but haven’t served missions or expressed interest in serving an LDS mission, which is the primary way that their religious beliefs become known. Of course, I’d welcome any additional information about Mormon players in baseball.
For those interested, here are those drafted in 2010:
- Bryce Harper — 1st round (1st overall) by the Washington Nationals (signed)
- Marcus Littlewood — 2nd round (67th overall) by the Seattle Mariners (signed)
- Jacob Borup — 23rd round (711 overall) by the Philadelphia Phillies (signed)
- Jace Brinkerhoff — 38th round (1164th overall) by the Los Angeles Angels (did not sign – was senior at Utah Valley in 2010)
- Jacob Hanneman — 48th round (1439th overall) by the Kansas City Royals (did not sign – currently serving LDS mission before beginning studies at BYU)
- Garrett Nash — 39th round (1171 overall) by the Arizona Diamondbacks (did not sign – currently sophomore at Oregon State, after serving LDS mission)