— Courtesy of Weatherford College
Like many talented players, Hunter Lockwood opted to play junior college baseball in hopes of being taken in the Major League Baseball draft. He transferred to Weatherford College after one season at the University of Oklahoma, where he tied for second in the Big 12 with 11 home runs, and was named to the All-Freshman Team.
Lockwood’s decision to switch schools was proven to be a wise one, recently. He was drafted in the 11th round by the Tampa Bay Rays, the 338th pick overall.
Lockwood is one of four Coyotes taken over three days in the draft. Two former Coyotes were also chosen.
Three right-handed sophomore pitchers joined Lockwood, a position player at catcher and outfield, in the WC selections.
Jacob Stone was taken in the 30th round by the Colorado Rockies and Blake Douglas went in the 33rd round to the Miami Marlins. Justin Garcia was chosen in the 38th round by the Cleveland Indians.
Former Coyote Josh Easley, a senior right-handed pitcher at North Carolina State, went in the 23rd round to Miami. Also, shortstop Chase Jensen, a senior at Oklahoma City University, went in the 22nd round to the San Diego Padres.
“WC baseball was once again well-represented in the MLB Draft,” said Coyotes coach Jeff Lightfoot. “Congrats to our players and coaching staff for all the hard work.”
Lockwood said he is likely to sign with Tampa Bay and will be playing in the rookie leagues soon.
“I like what we’ve got going,” he said. “I can get into the system faster and work my way up to a big league roster someday.”
Lockwood batted .343 for the Coyotes (33-25), helping them reach the NJCAA Region V Tournament for a fourth-straight season. His 15 doubles tied for fourth in the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference, and his seven home runs tied for seventh. He also hit three triples and drove in 45 runs.
Stone posted a 7-6 record with a save and a 3.62 earned-run average. He struck out 72 (fifth in the conference) and walked 42 in 82 innings pitched.
“Stone has a good fastball, plus a breaking ball at times and a feel for a changeup,” said WC pitching coach Flint Wallace. “Douglas [stands] 6-5 with a plus changeup, good slider, and is projected to throw in the low to mid-90s. Garcia has really good stuff and really good pitchability. He can throw four pitches for strikes at any point in the count.”
Garcia was 7-1 with a 3.23 ERA. He pitched 83.2 innings (third in conference), struck out 66 (tied for sixth) and walked 25. Garcia and Stone tied for fifth in the conference in victories.
Douglas (2-3) posted a 4.50 ERA with 43 strikeouts and 40 walks in 68 innings.
“The pitching in our conference is really strong. I believe there were seven pitchers drafted,” said Wallace. “All three of the pitchers from WC are quality pitchers.
“If they all can stay healthy and progress as projected, we could be watching them all on TV one day.”
Jensen helped OKCU to a 49-13 record and a berth in the NAIA Championships. He tied for the team lead in home runs (11), triples (4) and RBIs (51), while batting .332 with 16 doubles.
Easley, also a former Weatherford High School student-athlete, has been one of the top pitchers for North Carolina State this season, helping the Wolfpack (49-14) to their first College World Series berth since 1968. He is 7-2 with a 1.44 ERA, a save, 39 strikeouts and 13 walks in 43.2 innings.
Editor’s Note: Josh Easley and the Wolfpack will begin its College World Series run on Sunday, facing in-state rival North Carolina at 2 p.m., CDT. The game will be televised on ESPN2. With the first two games to be played Saturday, the 8-team, double elimination format tournament will last through June 25 (or June 26, if necessary).