History of Kansans in the MLB Draft

Riley Pint of Aquinas will look to join the list of Kansans in the MLB Draft. (Susana Photos)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Jun 9, 2016

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Several Kansans have been selected or signed to play professional baseball over the years, we take a look at some of them. Every player listed either played high school baseball in the state of Kansas or grew up in the state of Kansas, ex: Johnny Damon born in Junction City but not listed as he didn't grow up in Kansas, Walter Johnson listed because born & lived in Humboldt till 14 years of age.. List does not include players that aren't from Kansas and played collegiately in Kansas. Although this isn't a complete list we take a look at several of the notables over the years.

Kansans in the MLB Draft 

Clay Christiansen

Christiansen is a Columbus High School alum and played college baseball at Kansas, where he was a 15th round selection by the Yankees in 1980. He made his major league debut with the Yankees in 1984, where he went 2-4 in his only MLB season.

Alan Cockrell

Although Cockrell isn’t an alum of a high school in Kansas, he was born in Kansas City, Kansas and did prep at Riverton before transferring to Joplin Parkwood High School. Cockrell, a multi-sport standout, was the first freshman to ever start at quarterback at the University of Tennessee and was an All-American on their baseball team. He was the ninth overall pick by the San Francisco Giants in 1984 and made his major league debut in 1996, where he had a short stint for the Colorado Rockies.

Nate Cornejo

Cornejo was an all-state QB for Wellington as a junior and decided to not play his senior year because of being a major league prospect. After turning down several division one football opportunities he ended up being drafted in the supplemental first round (34th overall) by the Tigers in 1998. Cornejo spent 2001-2006 in the big leagues with the Tigers. His father, Mardie, also from Wellington HS, played in the majors and had 4-2 record with the New York Mets in 1978.

Aaron Crow

Washburn Rural product Aaron Crow played collegiately at Missouri where he ended up being a first round pick (9th overall) by the Kansas City Royals in 2009. Crow played with KC in the majors from 2011-2014, where he was an all-star in 2011. He last signed a minor league deal with the Cubs in 2016.

Darren Daulton

Daulton was a 25th round pick out of Arkansas City High School back in 1980 and would make his major league debut with the Phillies in 1983. He would go on to play in the big leagues from 1983-1997, where he was a three-time All-Star. He won a World Series in his last season of baseball with the Florida Marlins in 1997.

Don Dennis

Dennis, who was a Uniontown native, signed a free agent deal with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1962 and made his major league debut in 1965. Dennis picked up six wins and eight saves in two seasons for the Cardinals. His son, Shane Dennis, a standout athlete at Uniontown and Wichita State baseball in the early nineties, made it to Triple A with the Padres after being drafted in the seventh round in 1994.

Andy Dirks

Haven product Andy Dirks was a 8th round pick out of Wichita State in 2008 after playing at Hutchinson Community College. Dirks played with the Detroit Tigers in the majors from 2011-2013.

Darren Dreifort

Dreifort, a Wichita Heights product, was the National Player of the Year at Wichita State in 1993 before being picked second overall in the first round of the 1993 MLB Draft. Dreifort was picked just after Alex Rodriguez. He spent most of his time in the big leagues from 1994-2004, all with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Mark Elliott

Elliott, a multiple sport all-state athlete at Silver Lake, was a sixth round pick out of high school in 1977. He spent three seasons in the minor leagues with the Dodgers before retiring and playing quarterback at Washburn. Elliot, one of the best multi-sport athletes in history of the Topeka area, would go on to become a professional golfer and was once the Big 8 Coach of the Year for Kansas State University Golf.

P.J. Forbes

Forbes, a St. Mary’s Colgan High School product, was a 20th round selection by the Angels out of Wichita State in 1990. After spending several seasons in the minors he made a major league debut with the Orioles in 1998 and also had a stint in the MLB with the Phillies in 2001. After retiring from playing, he spent several seasons as a minor league manager before retiring from baseball.

Garrett Gould

Gould was the 65th overall pick in the second round of the 2009 MLB Draft out of Maize High School. The former Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year is one of the higher picks in draft history for Kansans, and made it to Double A in his six minor league seasons with the Dodgers.

Don Gutteridge

Gutteridge, a Pittsburg native, spent 12 seasons in the MLB 1936 to 1948 where he totaled 1,078 hits in his major league career. He played in two World Series but never won a championship. Gutteridge was also the manager of the Chicago White Sox in 1969-1970.

Jerad Head

The odds were against Head to ever play major league baseball but that didn’t stop the Topeka Hayden alum from doing so. He went undrafted out of Division II Washburn, where he was a multiple sport standout in baseball and basketball, but got a free agent deal with the Indians in 2005. Head spent several seasons working his way up the minors before making his major league debut with the Indians in 2011.

Brian Holman

Holman was a first round draft pick out of Wichita North High School in 1983 with the 16th overall pick by the Montreal Expos. Holman spent four seasons in the MLB from 1988-1991 where he won 37 games as a pitcher. It is believed to be Holman is the last Kansas high school pitcher to be drafted in the first round (not counting supplental first round picks). That will change on Thursday as Riley Pint of Aquinas is slated to be a top five pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.

Steve Jeltz

Jeltz, who prepped at Lawrence High, was a ninth round pick out of the University of Kansas by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980. He played eight seasons in the major leagues, seven with Philadelphia and one with Kansas City.

Blair Johnson

Although Johnson never reached the major leagues he was selected as the 42nd overall pick out of Washburn Rural High School in 2002 by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Johnson spent 2002-2009 in the minors but never got past the Double-A Level.

Walter Johnson

Perhaps the most famous on the list was Johnson of Humboldt. Although he didn’t prep at Humboldt, he lived there until he was 14 and was born there. He signed as a free agent with the Washington Senators in 1907 and spent 1907 to 1927 playing major league baseball where he racked up 417 wins as a pitcher, second most all-time. The “Big Train” had 3,508 strikeouts in his career. He is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and is part of the Major League Baseball All-Century and All-Time Teams. He was a two-time MVP, 3-time Triple Crown Winner and won a World Series with Washington.

Lonnie Kruger

The Silver Lake native was twice the Big Eight Player of the Year for the basketball team but also shined on the diamond at Kansas State. Although he never went on to play baseball after Kansas State, he went 5-4 on the mound in college and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 21st round of the 1974 MLB Draft. Kruger is now one of the most successful college basketball coaches in the country after leading Oklahoma to the 2016 Final Four.

Adam LaRoche

LaRoche, who retired from professional baseball this year with the Chicago White Sox, had been in the major leagues since 2004. LaRoche was a 29th round pick in the 2000 MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves after playing at Seminole State (OK) Junior College. The Fort Scott High School alum, that also spent one year at Fort Scott CC before Seminole, hit 255 home runs and 882 RBI in the big leagues. He won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award with the Washington Nationals in 2012. The son of former major leaguer Dave LaRoche, Adam’s younger brother, Andy LaRoche, also spent a few seasons in the MLB. The brothers spent parts of the 2008 and 2009 seasons together with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The oldest LaRoche brother, Jeff, also spent time in the minor leagues as a pitcher. Since retiring, Adam, who currently lives in Fort Scott, continues to be part owner of Buck Commander and is the owner of E3 Meat Company. 

Paul Lindblad

Lindblad played at Chanute High School and Neosho County Community College before signing a free agent deal in 1963 with the Kansas City Athletics. He made his major league debut in 1965 with Kansas City and spent 14 years with three different teams in the big leagues. He was 68-63 in his career as a pitcher with a 3.29 ERA. He won two World Series championships, one with Oakland and one with Texas.

Travis Metcalf

The Wamego and University of Kansas product was a 11th round selection by the Texas Rangers in 2004 and made his MLB Debut in 2007. Metcalf spent two years in the majors, where he tallied 54 hits and 11 home runs. Metcalf helped lead his Wamego Red Raiders to the 2000 4A State Baseball Championship in Kansas.

Colton Murray

Murray, an Olathe East product, made his major league debut last August for the Phillies. The former KU pitcher was a 13th round pick back in 2011 and is still on the Phillies active major league roster.

Derek Norris

Norris was a fourth round selection in 2007 out of Goddard High School by the Washington Nationals and opted to skip college at Wichita State to play professional baseball. He has been in the majors since 2012 and was an all-star with the Oakland A’s in 2014. Norris is currently a catcher with the San Diego Padres.

Ted Power

Abilene product was a fifth round pick by the Dodgers out of Kansas State in 1976. As a pitcher, he won 68 games and had 70 saves over seven seasons in the MLB. He played with eight different teams in his minor and major league career, most of them with the Cincinnati Reds.

Bob Randall

Randall, who was born in Norton and prepped at then Gove HS, was a second round pick out of Kansas State in the 1969 MLB Draft by the Dodgers. He made his major league debut in 1976 with Minnesota where he spent five seasons in the big leagues.

Steve Renko

Renko, a KC Wyandotte alum, went on to play at the University of Kansas, where he was a 24th round selection in the 1965 MLB Draft. Renko spent 1969-1983 in the majors as a pitcher where he totaled 134 wins with a 3.99 ERA with seven total teams.

Nate Robertson

Maize product Nate Robertson was a fifth round pick in 1999 out of Wichita State by the Florida Marlins. Robertson spent 2002-2010 in the major league where he totaled 57 wins as a pitcher. He is now an assistant coach at Maize High School.

Bill Russell

Russell was a ninth round pick by the Dodgers in 1966 out of Pittsburg High School. He spent 1969-1986 in the major leagues where he racked up over 1,900 hits. He was a three time all-star and was a 2x all-star. He was also the manager of the Dodgers from 1996-1998.

Ray Sadecki

Bishop Ward alum Sadecki was a free agent by the Cardinals back in 1958. He played in the major leagues from 1960-1977 where he tallied 135 wins and 1,614 strikeouts. He won a World Series with the Cardinals in 1964.  

David Segui

Segui, a Bishop Ward alum, played in the major league with several teams from 1990-2004 where he hit 139 career home runs. Segui played collegiately at Kansas City Kansas Community College and Louisiana Tech University. He was an 18th round pick back in the 1987 MLB Draft.

Roger Slagle

Slagle, who was born in Wichita and grew up in Larned, went on to play at Hutchinson CC and the University of Kansas where he would become a first round pick (19th overall) by the Yankees in 1976. Although he had a brief stint in the majors, he made his debut in 1979, where he spent one season with New York.

Dan Smith

Smith, the 1993 Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year out of Girard High School, was a seventh round selection by the Rangers out of high school and opted for the pros instead of college at Wichita State. He eventually made the big leagues with the Montreal Expos in 1998. He played in the majors with the Expos and Red Sox from 1999-2003. He is most known to the MLB for giving up Tony Gwynn's 3,000th hit. 

Daryl Spencer

Spencer, a Wichita East alum that played at Wichita State, was a free agent with the New York Giants in 1952. He went on to play until 1965 with four teams where he totaled over 900 hits and 105 home runs in the majors.

Bubba Starling

Starling is one of the few on this list to not make a major league debut yet, but he is one of the highest picks in the history of Kansans, going #5 overall in the first round to the Kansas City Royals out of Gardner Edgerton High School in 2011. Starling is currently with the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals of the Royals Organization. Starling, one of the best mutli-sport athletes in Kansas history, could have a future in college football if he decides to step away from baseball.

Mike Torrez

Torrez signed a free agent deal with the St. Louis Cardinals out of Topeka High back in 1964. He went on to win 185 games as a major league pitcher from 1967-1984, the second most among all players born in Kansas behind Walter Johnson. Torrez won a World Series with the Yankees in 1977.

Blake Treinen

Treinen may have been the most unlikely of MLB picks. After throwing around 70 MPH at Osage City High School he ended up at Baker University, then transferred to South Dakota State before being drafted in the seventh round in the 2011 by the Oakland A’s. Treinen, who really developed as a pitcher in college with velocity, now throws in the high 90s and is a pitcher in the MLB for the Washington Nationals.

Logan Watkins

Watkins was a 21st round pick out of Goddard High School in 2008. He made his major league debut in 2013 with the Chicago Cubs, where he spent parts of two seasons. Goddard was well represented in 2013, as they had two former players in the MLB, including Derek Norris, a 2007 alum. 

Collin Wiles

Wiles was a supplemental first round pick by the Texas Rangers out of Blue Valley West High School in 2012. He is currently in the minor league system with the Rangers. His brother, Nathan, a senior at Blue Valley West this past spring, has signed with Oklahoma.