Three Gophers selected in MLB Draft

Gophers pitcher Ben Meyer pitches during a game against Nebraska at Siebert Field on April 13. 2014. On Sunday, Meyer signed with the Miami Marlins.

Daily File Photo, Patricia Grover

Gophers pitcher Ben Meyer pitches during a game against Nebraska at Siebert Field on April 13. 2014. On Sunday, Meyer signed with the Miami Marlins.

Minnesota pitchers Lance Thonvold, Dalton Sawyer and Ben Meyer may soon trade Siebert Field for minor league ballparks.
 
The three were selected in the Major League Baseball draft’s third day on June 10, marking the 28th straight year at least one player from Minnesota has been taken during the event. 
 
“Being part of the three pitchers is quite an honor,” Thonvold said. “Collectively as a pitching staff, we’re a hard-working group, and a lot of times it pays off.”
 
Reliever Thonvold was the first Minnesota player to be selected. He was taken by the Seattle Mariners 725th overall in the 24th round. 
 
“My pitching coach Todd Oakes always told me with the draft coming up, ‘It just takes one person, one team to like you,’” Thonvold said. “And I think that’s what really happened with Seattle. I’m fortunate they want to take a chance on me and see what I’ve got.” 
 
Thonvold officially signed with the Mariners on Thursday, forgoing his senior season with the Gophers. Thonvold reported to Arizona for physical evaluations on
Saturday and will report to the Mariner’s class A short-season affiliate, the Everett AquaSox.
 
The right-hander pitched 16.1 innings in his redshirt junior season, finishing with a 7.71 earned run average, 13 strikeouts and 10 walks.
 
Sawyer was the next to go in the draft for the Gophers, being selected 800th overall in the 27th round by the Minnesota Twins. 
 
“It’s pretty cool, I’ve got to say,” Sawyer said. “I always grew up watching the Twins, and now getting the opportunity to play for them is a dream come true.” 
 

Sawyer pitched 49.2 innings his junior season between eight starts and seven relief appearances, finishing with a 4.53 ERA. 
 
Sawyer held opponents to a .222 batting average but walked 32 batters last season. In his sophomore year, Sawyer pitched in 21 games in relief and finished with a 2.62 ERA.
 
Though the Waconia, Minn., native is still in negotiations with the Twins, he has ideas as to what his role may be with the club. 
 
“Hopefully, one day I can play a role like Glen Perkins in being an all-star save closer,” Sawyer said. “But in the immediate future, a set-up man or left-hand specialist would be my role.” 
 
The final member of the Gophers selected in the draft was starter Ben Meyer, going to the Miami Marlins 866th overall in the 29th round. 
 
After pitching four years at Minnesota, Meyer is second in program history for innings pitched at 288 and seventh in career strikeouts at 219. 
 
Meyer had a disappointing senior season, finishing with a 4.31 ERA after never posting a season ERA over three in his first three seasons. Meyer said that being drafted was in the back of his mind all season. 
 
“I was wondering what I’d be doing when the season was over and what I’d be doing in the summer,” Meyer said. “This was my top choice for the summer, if not, I would’ve just found another job. So I’m thankful for this opportunity.”
 
Meyer signed with the Marlins on Sunday, and said he’s excited to be a part of an “up and coming club with a lot of young talent.”
 
The draft marks the 13th straight year a Minnesota pitcher has been drafted, despite pitching coach Todd Oakes battling leukemia twice since his initial diagnosis in
2012.
 
Sawyer said Oakes has taught him to balance the game along with other elements of life. 
 
“Baseball is a game and now hopefully a career,” Sawyer said. “But there are bigger things. Keeping it all in perspective is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned.”