Three pitchers from the University of Oregon baseball program were selected in the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday.
Senior Justin LaTempa headlines the class, as he was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the 12th round (384 overall). Redshirt junior Drew Gagnier was selected by in the 17th round (523 overall) by the Detroit Tigers. The final Oregon player to be chosen on day two of the draft was senior Zack Thornton. The right-hander was taken in the 23rd round (695 overall) by the Oakland Athletics.
JUSTIN LATEMPA – 12th Round – Los Angeles Angels
Oregon’s Saturday starter in the weekend rotation, LaTempa returned the diamond in 2010 after missing most of the 2009 season with a shoulder injury. He ended his senior year with a 6-3 record and 3.65 ERA in 15 starts. In 88 and 2/3 innings on the mound, the right-hander dealt 68 strikeouts and held opposing batters to a .252 clip.
LaTempa was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week on May 3 after tossing a one-hit, complete game shutout in a 6-0 victory over Washington State on May 1. Following that outstanding performance, he was also named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Pitcher of the Week, the Pro-Line Athletic National Pitcher of the Week, the CollegeBaseball360.com Primetime Pitcher of the Week, the College Baseball Insider National Pitcher of the Week, and was named to the College Baseball Foundation National All-Star Lineup.
Some of LaTempa’s biggest moments on the mound this season included surrendering just three runs – two earned – over 6 and 1/3 innings, and being credited with the win in Oregon’s series-clinching 8-4 upset of then No. 1 UCLA on April 17. He also tossed six innings, and allowed two earned runs on nine hits while striking out four in a 5-2 victory at Washington on May 22.
LaTempa ended his collegiate career last Sunday. He put the Ducks in position for the win after throwing six innings, and allowing two runs – one earned – on seven hits and three walks while striking out one in Oregon’s 4-3 victory over 17th-ranked Connecticut in game five of the Norwich Regional.
His performance earned him a spot on the Norwich Regional All-Tournament Team.
This was the second time LaTempa had been chosen in the MLB First-Year Player Draft. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native was selected in the 22nd round (678 overall) by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008.
DREW GAGNIER – 17th Round - Detroit Tigers
A 2009 Pac-10 honorable mention selection, Gagnier was Oregon’s closer in 2009 with a team-high seven saves. Entering the 2010 season, Gagnier was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Preseason Stopper of the Year Watch List.
As a redshirt junior, Gagnier finished 2010 with a 0-2 record, 3.18 ERA and four saves. He made 23 appearances for the Ducks and tossed 22 and 2/3 innings, while striking out 25 and holding opposing batters to a .247 clip. During his two seasons with the Ducks, Gagnier has made 46 appearances on the mound – the most of any Oregon reliever over the last two years.
For his career, the right-hander posts a 3.08 ERA and 1-2 record in 52 and 2/3 innings on the mound. His 11 career saves are an Oregon program record, while the native of Santa Cruz, Calif., also totaled 55 strikeouts and held opposing batters to a .186 clips over the past two seasons.
This is the second time Gagnier was selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft. Following the 2009 season, Gagnier was chosen by the Oakland Athletics in the 14th round (423 overall).
Gagnier’s older brother Lauren currently plays for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens of the Detroit Tigers minor league system.
ZACK THORNTON – 23rd Round – Oakland Athletics
Another pitcher to battle back from injury, Thornton was finally healthy after a shoulder injury plagued his junior year with the Ducks.
Thornton finished his senior year with a record of 9-0, as his win total ties for the Oregon single-season record. The Oak Park, Calif., native was named Pac-10 honorable mention after posting a 3.40 ERA in 12 starts and 17 appearances, while pitching a total of 90 innings and dealing 73 strikeouts.
The Ducks’ won five Pac-10 series during 2010, and Thornton was credited with the win in four of the series-clinching victories.
He pitched three shutout innings of relief, and struck out four before being credited with the win in Oregon’s 6-5 upset of then No. 1 Arizona State on April 2, and also pitched 4 and 2/3 innings of one-run relief while striking out four in Oregon series-clinching 9-6 upset of then No. 22 Stanford.
He was also credited with the win in Oregon’s series-clinching 6-1 victory over Washington State after holding the Cougars to one run on four hits while striking out six in six innings of work. Thornton helped Oregon to another series-clinching victory and was credited with the win after allowing just one unearned run in 7 and 2/3 innings on the mound while striking out four in a 5-2 win at Washington on May 23.
In his last appearance in an Oregon uniform, Thornton helped the Ducks win their first game of the Norwich Regional in a 5-3 victory over No. 2 seed, host and 17th-ranked Connecticut last Friday. In six innings on the mound, Thornton scattered eight hits and allowed two runs – only one earned – while striking out six.
This is the second time Thornton has been drafted in his baseball career. After two years at Ventura College, Thornton was selected in43rd round of the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the San Francisco Giants.