SAN DIEGO - Inside Fowler Park and the USD baseball program, there’s an understandable pride about the team’s success in producing professional players. Unofficially, the Toreros even created a hashtag. It reads:
The Toreros lived up to the moniker again this week with four players being selected in the Major League Baseball draft.
Right-handed pitcher Paul Richan was selected in the second round by the Chicago Cubs. Catcher/first baseman/outfielder Jay Schuyler was taken in the seventh round by the Cincinnati Reds. Left-handed pitcher Nick Sprengel was picked in the 15th round by the Tampa Rays, and third baseman Brhet Bewley was selected in the 32nd round by the Kansas City Royals.
It marked the sixth straight year USD has had at least four players taken in the draft.
“I’m extremely proud of these guys and how they’ve matured over their three years at USD,” said Toreros head coach Rich Hill.
Richan’s selection by the Cubs stretched USD’s streak of having a player selected in the third round or higher to five straight years. That group includes three first-round picks: Kris Bryant (2013, Cubs), catcher/first baseman Connor Joe (2014, Pirates) and shortstop Kyle Holder (2015, Yankees).
Richan didn’t think his name would be called until the second day of the draft, likely from the fourth to sixth rounds. Instead, with the first day of the draft winding down, he received a call from his advisor.
“He told me to stay by the phone and keep it charged,” said Richan.
Minutes later, Richan received a call from a Cubs area scout, telling him he had been taken with the 78th overall pick, the final selection on the draft’s first day.
“I’ve been playing baseball since I was probably 3 years old,” said Richan, who grew up in Newhall. “All this hard work finally paid off.”
Richan jumped on scouts’ radar with an impressive junior season. In 89 2/3 innings he struck out 101 batters and walked just 13. He was 4-6 with a 4.62 ERA.
Said Hill, “That was probably the stat that jumped out for the Cubs, his ability to really pound the (strike) zone with velocity.”
Richan attributes his high strikeouts-to-walks ratio to “just the ability to throw all four of my pitches for strikes. To be able to keep a hitter on his toes (not knowing what pitch is coming) is probably the most important thing to have for a pitcher.”
Richan became USD’s highest player taken in the draft since Holder was selected 30th overall by the Yankees in 2015.
Schuyler was at home with his family in Laguna Niguel when a Reds area scout called and let him know the dream of a lifetime had been fulfilled.
“It was pretty surreal,” Schuyler said. “It was an emotional time for me and my family. This was something I dreamed about since I was a little kid.”
Schuyler batted a team-leading .342 with a club best 75 hits, 38 runs and 108 total bases.
While proving his versatility playing catcher, first base and the outfield, squatting behind the plate is where he’d like to line up professionally.
“I like catching,” he said. “You’re involved in every pitch.”
Schuyler is going to a Reds organization that arguably produced the greatest catcher ever, Johnny Bench. But his favorite player at the position is a current member of the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I’d say Yadier Molina is my favorite,” Schuyler said. “He’s incredible, the way he works with pitchers, the way he leads the team is awesome.”
In his USD career, Sprengel compiled 207 strikeouts in 184 2/3 innings. He was 9-1 with a 3.29 ERA as a sophomore.
Bewley batted .291 this season, leading the Toreros with eight home runs and 44 RBI.
Schuyler and Richan raved about their experiences as student-athletes at USD.
“I enjoyed every second of it,” said Schuyler, a finance major who earned West Coast Conference All-Academic honors this season. “The thing I enjoyed the most was getting to know all the guys, getting 35 new family members every year. Seeing their growth, seeing all their hard work pay off.”
Said Richan, a business administration major, “It’s been a great experience, to grow mentally as a baseball player and student.”
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