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Catholic HS stars selected 1-2 in MLB Draft

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Number 1 MLB draft pick- J. Serra HS shortstop Royce Lewis. (photo via bleacherreport.com)

For the first time in the 52-year history of the Major League Baseball Draft, two players from Los Angeles area Catholic high schools were chosen one-two, though the order proved a mild surprise.

Royce Lewis, a hard-hitting shortstop from J. Serra High School in San Juan Capistrano, was the No. 1 selection by the Minnesota Twins, immediately followed by fireballing pitcher-infielder Hunter Greene of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, taken second in the first round by the Cincinnati Reds.

Lewis, who had committed to attend UC Irvine, was named Gatorade’s California HIgh School Player of the Year, batting .377 with 25 stolen bases as a senior. At 6’1” and 185 pounds, he was praised by Baseball America Magazine as possessing a “unique combination of explosive tools, top-of-the-scale makeup and up-the-middle defensive profile."

Lewis thus becomes the second local Catholic high school player to be the No. 1 overall selection the draft. The first was another shortstop, Tim Foli from Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks, taken first by the New York Mets in 1968, whose 16-year career with six teams included hitting for the cycle (in 1976) and earning a World Series ring with the Pittsburgh Pirates (in 1979).

Greene, featured in April on the cover of Sports Illustrated, had been widely projected as the No. 1 draft choice, with Lewis expected to be a top-5 pick. Though he pitched only 28 innings as a senior, Green dominated when he did appear with a fastball topping 100 miles an hour, and at the plate wielded a powerful bat (.324, 6 HRs) that drew comparisons to another Notre Dame HS graduate, current Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.

As the annual draft continued into the tenth round on Wednesday afternoon, two other local Catholic school prospects were selected:

---Cory Abbott, a right-handed pitcher who tossed the first perfect game in the history of Loyola Marymount University baseball on March 25, was taken in the second round (67th overall) by the Chicago Cubs. A graduate of Serra High in San Diego, Abbott was LMU’s male athlete of the year for 2017, and is the highest draft selection from LMU since Billy Traber (first round) in 2000.

---Catcher Blake Hunt of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana was chosen 69th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays. Hunt batted .394 with 6 homeruns in his senior season, and was the among the top 15 catching prospects in the nation by Baseball America entering the draft.

Among other local Catholic school players in line to be selected were third baseman Jason Gonzalez of Bishop Amat High School, La Puente, and pitchers Daniel Ritcheson of Bishop Alemany HS, Mission Hills; Carlos Lomeli, St. John Bosco HS, Bellflower; and Isaiah Paige, Damien HS, La Verne.

The top local Catholic school selection in the 2016 MLB Draft, outfielder Blake Rutherford of Chaminade Prep in West Hills (round 1, 18th overall), is batting .280 for the New York Yankees’ Charleston River Dogs in the Class-A Sally League. Lefthanded pitcher Nick Lodolo from Damien, taken in Round 2 (41st overall) by the Pittsburgh Pirates, opted to attend Texas Christian University where he posted a 5-1 won-lost mark for the Horned Frogs in 2017.

(An updated list will appear next week.)

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