Jimmy Pickens, Joel Fisher selected in MLB First-Year Player Draft
The MSU baseball team saw two players drafted in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft on Saturday — outfielder Jimmy Pickens to the Cincinnati Reds in round 15 (455th overall), and catcher Joel Fisher to the Philadelphia Phillies in round 23 (682nd overall).
Pickens was a top contributor to the Spartan offense last season, posting 38 runs and leading the team with a .318 batting average.
The senior outfielder’s strong 2014 campaign, which included a 13-game hitting streak from March 7-April 2 where he batted an average of .404, culminated into an All-Big Ten First Team selection at the end of the season.
“Jimmy was one of our two best guys offensively and, I think, really prepared himself well for the draft and for a career for baseball,” baseball head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “He possesses the tools a lot of those guys were looking for as far as athleticism and foot speed and especially power, and he showed all three for us this year.”
Pickens, who was drafted in the 41 round by the Detroit Tigers in 2011 after graduating Brother Rice High School in Rochester Hills, Mich., succeeded in his goal of improving his draft stock.
“He was drafted out of high school and really wanted to work hard to improve his draft status, and he did that,” Boss said. “(I’m) very happy for him, excited for his future.”
Fisher had a solid campaign for the Spartans last season with 39 RBI’s and threw out a Big Ten-best 30 potential base stealers.
The 6-foot-3 right-hander was huge for MSU in the Big Ten Tournament, hitting .471 with six RBI’s to help the Spartans reach the semi-final round, where they fell to Indiana, 7-4.
You can’t really measure the impact that he had on our program because the job that he did, the catcher is kinda like the quarterback out on the field,” Boss said. “He did that for four years and was really really good, won a Big Ten title as a freshman. And just the leadership he brought to the table was extremely good from a talent perspective.
“He was as good as a catch and throw guy as we saw anywhere in the country. He got hot there towards the end in the Big Ten Tournament with the bat and I think that really helped him.”
Next season, the Spartans will welcome back junior designated hitter Blaise Salter, junior right-hander Mick VanVossen and redshirt junior left-hander Jeff Kinley, who did not get drafted last weekend.
VanVossen, who was the No. 1 pitcher for MSU last season, pitched a career-best .282 ERA and posted an 8-3 overall record. Salter was an offensive powerhouse with 50 RBI’s and a .317 average.
Kinley missed a portion of his 2013 campaign because of blood clots, which Boss said may have affected his draft stock as he worked to recover pre-blood clot form.
“It’s a situation where they certainly take that and have the motivation to prove to all 30 pro organizations that they’re capable of being successful at the next level,” Boss said. “I think that goes into their approach for summer baseball, the way that they lead our ball club next fall, and the work that they put into the offseason.”