East County Sports

MLB DRAFT: Tigers, Rays take interest



EastCountySports.com staff report


EL CAJON – The Detroit Tigers’ southern California-based scouts have their eye trained on San Diego-based talent, it seems.

In fact, Detroit selected three players with East County ties during the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, which concluded on Wednesday.

First, the Tigers made big news locally with the fourth-round selection of Mission Hills leadoff man Kingston Liniak, who was all but ready to sign for over slot value plus bonuses near $1 million instead of a college baseball career at the University of San Diego.

Meanwhile, later in the fourth round, the Minnesota Twins drafted former Helix Highlander outfielder DASHAWN KIERSEY JR., out of the University of Utah.

Kiersey, a three-time All-Pac 12 performer that hit a career .334 with the Utes, returned to form following a fractured and dislocated hip after colliding with an outfield wall which sidelined him for four months in 2017.

Later, Detroit tabbed former Mount Miguel High and Grossmont College star ERIC DE LA ROSA, who was the Pacific Association Southern California Position Player of the Year after hitting .434 with 14 home runs and 24 stolen bases this past season for the Griffins.

De La Rosa, an outfielder for the San Diego Stars semipro baseball team, turned 21 on Sunday. An All-East County selection for the Matadors in 2016, De La Rosa moved on to Grossmont College, where he transformed into a first-team selection on the 2018 ABCA/Rawlings All-America team for the Griffins.

Also, the Tampa Bay Rays tabbed former Santana High, Grossmont College and UNLV pitcher ALAN STRONG with the 300th selection overall (10th round). Strong struck out 86 batters in 90 innings for the Rebels this past season.

On Wednesday, the San Francisco Giants took former West Hills pitcher TRENTON TOPLIKAR in the 16th round. Toplikar started 14 games for UC Riverside this past season.

In the 17th round, the Tigers chose former Steele Canyon outfielder AVERY TUCK, who played this past season at New Mexico Junior College, where he hit .385 with 52 RBI.

Tuck was an original commit to San Diego State before being drafted in the 26th round in 2016 by the Houston Astros before he wound up with the powerhouse Thunderbirds.

Another former Cougar  – ALEX VESIA – was taken just 12 picks later by the Miami Marlins. Vesia, a 2014 SC grad, went 8-2 this season to finish his career as the all-time wins and strikeouts leader at Cal State East Bay.

Former Granite Hills High standout JORDAN VERDON, a first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection who is coming off one of the most productive seasons in San Diego State history, was taken by the Tigers in the 23rd round.

Also, former Valhalla High pitcher/outfielder JORDAN QSAR, who was a Collegiate Baseball first-team All-American this season at Pepperdine, was selected in the 24th round by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Azusa Pacific senior outfielder PABLO O’CONNOR, who starred at Monte Vista, was chosen by the Washington Nationals in the 27th round. O’Connor hit .337 with 17 home runs this past year with for the Cougars and was selected to the All-PacWest first team.

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