Drafted baseball Wildcats ready for MLB future
The Arizona baseball team may have failed to live up to expectations after winning the 2012 National Championship, but for third baseman Brandon Dixon the past season may have been just as fruitful.
After providing little offense as a sophomore, Dixon exploded this past season to win the Pac-12 batting title. He was rewarded Friday when the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted him in the 3rd round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft (the 92nd pick overall).
“I’m really excited and glad that the Dodgers gave me a chance,” Dixon said. “It’s a great opportunity to further my career and it’s a chance that I feel very lucky to have. [The draft] was everything I wanted, and I’m very excited to move on with my career as a Dodger. I couldn’t imagine being drafted by a better organization.”
Dixon was the highest picked Wildcat since 2008, which completes his transformation from last season. In 2012, Dixon started in less than two-thirds of the games for Arizona’s College World Series team. Of course, he capped off that season by driving in the winning run with a double against South Carolina to help clinch the title.
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Baseball beat Alabama State Friday night 8-2.
The Murrieta, Calif., native exploded offensively, hitting .369 on the season and he was named to the Pac-12 All-Conference Team.
Dixon, who was also named a Louisville Slugger third-team All-American, became the third player in school history to score at least 50 runs, hit 50 RBIs and steal 30 bases in the same season. This all comes after Dixon had a .245 average and just 14 RBIs as a sophomore.
“It feels great,” Dixon said, “But I haven’t made it yet. I still have a long way to go and it’s going to be hard. Baseball is a tough sport and the competition gets better and better as you move forward. I’m really excited to see what my future has in store.”
The man Dixon stole the batting crown from, center fielder Johnny Field, also heard his name called as the Tampa Bay Rays selected Field with the 158th pick.
“It means a lot,” Field said. “It’s a goal I have been looking forward to my whole life — to play college ball, play for a national championship and then come out as a junior and get drafted by a major league organization.
“It was unbelievable when my dream came true.”
Field has represented a key offensive and defensive cog in Arizona’s lineup over the past three years and compiled a career line of a .343 batting average, .518 slugging percentage and .431 on-base percentage.
The Las Vegas native collected 224 base hits, 165 runs scored and 115 RBI and stole 31 bases in his tenure as a Wildcat.
“It feels good,” Field said. “This is the start of a new chapter, but there’s still a lot of hard work that needs to be done now. The minors are a huge grind and nothing like college baseball.”
Right-handed pitcher Konner Wade was selected in the 7th round with the 199th overall pick by the Colorado Rockies.
“It’s exciting because it’s an opportunity to begin to fulfill a lifelong dream,” Wade said. “I’ve been talking to the Rockies for a while, and I feel like it’s going to be a really good fit.”
Some problems however may arise, as the Rockies’ Coors Field is a notoriously hitter-friendly ballpark due to its high altitude. Nonetheless, the Scottsdale, Ariz., native said he isn’t concerned.
“Someone has to pitch there [and succeed],” Wade said. “So why can’t I be that guy? I think they like guys who have good movement and sinking action, so I think my arsenal will fit really well in this [park and] organization.”
Three other Wildcats-all of whom were pitchers- also were drafted in the final day of the MLB draft.
Junior starter James Farris was selected in the 15 round by by the Houston Astros (437th overall). The Baltimore Orioles selected two relievers from Arizona: senior Nick Cunningham (20th round; 609th overall) and redshirt junior Augey Bill (39th round; 1,179th overall).