LEXINGTON, Ky. – Five Kentucky players were selected on day two of the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft, bringing the total number of Wildcats picked in the first 10 rounds to six and making UK one of just three schools to have that many players taken to this point.
The Wildcats drafted on Tuesday included: OF Tristan Pompey (3rd round, Miami), C/1B Kole Cottam (4th, Boston), RHP Zach Haake (6th, Kansas City), INF/OF Luke Heyer (8th, LA Dodgers) and 2B Luke Becker (9th, San Diego). Junior right-handed pitcher Sean Hjelle was taken with the 45th overall pick by the San Francisco Giants on Monday night.
Kentucky now has had 12 players drafted in the first 10 rounds over the past two seasons, and 14 overall heading into Wednesday’s final day, which has 30 rounds. Four of those players were seniors who previously had gone undrafted in their career, a testament to the development in the program.
TRISTAN POMPEY (Miami Marlins; 3rd Round, No. 89)
The Marlins used the 89th overall pick on Pompey, the Cats’ switch-hitting outfielder from Toronto, Ontario, the second consecutive season the franchise has selected a UK player in the third round (Riley Mahan). The organization also has former Wildcats infielder JT Riddle as its shortstop at the major league level and former Rawlings Gold Glove winner Dustin Beggs pitching for Greensboro at the A-ball level.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder hit .335 in 50 games this season, scoring 41 runs and driving in 39 while connecting for 20 doubles and seven home runs. He also stole a career-high 10 bases in 13 attempts and made just one error in the field. The performance came as a follow up to his incredible 2017 campaign where he hit .361 with 70 runs, 18 doubles, 10 home runs, 45 RBI, 46 walks and nine steals. For his career, the switch hitter stroked 193 hits, which ranks 18th on the school’s all-time list. He hits a combined .321 in 165 games with 136 runs, 46 doubles, one triple, 24 home runs, 113 RBI, 99 walks, 21 stolen bases and an OPS of .947. The 46 doubles and 99 walks each rank 11th on UK’s career lists.
KOLE COTTAM (Boston Red Sox; 4th round, No. 130)
The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder junior was selected by the storied Red Sox franchise as a catcher, his primary position for much of his three-year collegiate career. He had the larger share at first base of a first base/catcher platoon with senior Troy Squires this season, earning First-Team All-Southeastern Conference honors from the coaches as a first baseman, as well as Second-Team All-America by Collegiate Baseball.
The first-time draftee had a sensational 2018 season, flashing his plus power stroke on a consistent basis all year. He finished with 19 home runs, the ninth-most for a single-season in UK history, on his way to a 1.105 OPS. Cottam led the team with a .352 average, 54 runs and 77 hits. He added 12 doubles, 31 walks, four steals and 51 RBI. For his career, Cottam hit .326 in 151 games (129 start) with 99 runs, 162 hits, 30 doubles, one triple, 27 home runs and 11 RBI. He ranks 26th on the school’s career hit list and owns a hefty .952 career OPS.
ZACH HAAKE (Kansas City Royals; 6th Round, No. 182)
Haake, a 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, from Breese, Illinois was selected by the Kansas City Royals with the 182nd overall pick, making him the fourth UK player drafted. The junior right-hander showed his versatility by both starting and relieving for the Cats this season, making six starts in 15 appearances.
A transfer from John A. Logan College, Haake was lights out in preseason practices before a freak injury to his hand when he slipped on ice delayed his start to the season. When he returned in early March, Haake lit up radar guns, often hitting mid-to-upper 90s with a wipeout slider. He struck out 36 batters in 34.0 innings and was dominant against No. 1 Florida, strikeout out three in two perfect innings of work.
LUKE HEYER (Los Angeles Dodgers; 8th Round, No. 254)
Heyer, from Lithia, Fla., burst onto the scene this season with his prodigious power at the plate, convincing the Los Angeles Dodgers to take their fourth UK player in two years. He twice was named SEC Player of the Week and also earned National Player of the Week honors earlier this season. Playing three positions defensively did not hinder his bat, as he finished the season batting .348 with an OPS of 1.131. He led the league in home runs (18), RBI (57) and total bases (140), while ranking in the top five in doubles, runs scored and slugging percentage. He also had 21 multi-hit games and 15 multi-RBI games.
Nationally, the 6-foot, 200-pound senior finished the regular season ranked eighth in home runs, 14th in slugging percentage, 17th in total bases and 38th in RBI. He also has had clutch hits throughout the season, including a two-strike, two-run, game-tying homer in the ninth inning of a win over Auburn that helped the Cats defeat Tigers’ All-American ace Casey Mize while taking the weekend series.
LUKE BECKER (San Diego Padres; 9th Round, No. 261)
Becker, a senior from Fairmont, Minnesota who started 147 games in his career both as a second baseman and third baseman, was selected at the beginning of the ninth round by the San Diego Padres. Previously undrafted, Becker played his way into the top 10 rounds with consistency and remarkable plate discipline.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder hit .286 in 2018 with 37 runs, 12 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 38 RBI, 37 walks, nine hit by pitch and 10 stolen bases while hitting all over the Cats’ lineup. For his career, Becker finished with 148 hits (33rd on UK’s all-time list) and drew 95 walks as part of his .390 on-base percentage.