Seven Trojan baseball players were chosen in MLB draft

Daily Trojan file photo

Seven USC baseball players were selected in the 2019 MLB Draft last week. The Trojans were selected on the second and third days of the event, adding to a record total of 340 selections — more than any other NCAA school.

Junior pitcher Chris Clarke was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the fourth round. Clarke, the highest drafted baseball player from USC since 2014, was the first Trojan selected in the draft. The Westlake Village native had an exceptional 1.03 ERA in 52.1 innings as a reliever this season. Clarke began his career at USC as a starter, but he rose as a dominant force out of the bullpen in his last season.

Junior outfielder Blake Sabol was selected in the seventh round by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sabol led the team this season with 13 stolen bases, 3 home runs and 22 RBIs. He was a consistent presence in the Trojans’ lineup, starting in every game for USC the past two seasons.

“So thankful for the [Pittsburgh Pirates] organization for giving me the opportunity to play the game that I love for a living,” Sabol wrote in an Instagram post following his selection. “Today is just a new beginning and one step closer to reaching the dream I’ve been pursuing since I was a little boy.”

Redshirt junior catcher CJ Stubbs finished off the Trojans’ day two selections after getting drafted by the Houston Astros in the 10th round. Stubbs finished this season with 6 home runs and an .844 OPS. Stubbs was mainly a pitcher for the Trojans in his first two seasons, but he had to sit out his third year due to his Tommy John surgery. After recovering, Stubbs returned as the Trojans’ primary backstop for 2019.

Stubbs’ brother Garrett recently made his Major League debut on May 28 — catching for the same Astros organization that took the younger Stubbs in the 10th round.

Junior pitcher Connor Lunn was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 11th round. Lunn was initially the Trojans’ closer, but he emerged as the Trojans’ best starting pitcher as the year progressed. He won seven games while striking out 79 batters in 83 innings, comprising a 3.69 ERA on the season.

The San Diego Padres selected junior outfielder Matthew Acosta in the 12th round. Acosta was USC’s most consistent offensive performer, leading the team with a .319 average, 7 home runs and 40 RBIs. 

Two Trojan pitchers were selected by the Kansas City Royals. Junior pitcher Austin Manning was taken in the 19th round after striking out 25 batters through 21 innings in relief for the Trojans. Manning was joined on the Kansas City draft board by sophomore Augie Sylk, the final Trojan to be selected. Sylk spent the majority of the season recovering from an injury and only appeared in one game for USC. His name was called in the 38th round. 

This draft included the most Trojans since the program record of twelve picks in 2016. All seven will have until July 12 to decide if they will return to USC for another season or forgo the remainder of their college eligibility to begin their journey to the big leagues with new clubs.