The New York Yankees selected Western Kentucky outfielder Jake Sanford in the third round of the Major League Baseball Draft with the 105th overall pick Tuesday.

The American League club chose the Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, native and McCook Community College transfer at 12:44 p.m.

Sanford is the 57th player drafted in WKU program history and the fourth-highest Hilltopper taken in program history.

Sanford is the fourth WKU player drafted in the top three rounds, 13th WKU outfielder selected in the draft and the 22nd Hilltopper drafted in the past 11 years.

Former WKU righty Phil Wetherell was taken by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2011 MLB draft. Hilltopper catcher Matt Rice was selected by New York in the 50th round of the 2010 MLB draft but elected not to sign and returned to WKU for his senior season.

The Hilltoppers’ most recent selections were righty Ben Morrison and outfielder Jacob Rhinesmith in the 2018 MLB draft; Morrison was taken 301st overall in the 10th round by the Los Angeles Angels, while Rhinesmith was taken 551st overall in the 18th round by the Washington Nationals. Sanford would join those two and Anderson Miller (taken 98th overall in the third round by the Kansas City Royals in 2015) as active WKU players in minor league baseball.

At pick No. 105, Sanford is the highest Nova Scotian ever taken in the MLB draft, eclipsing righty Steve Nelson, who was taken 160th overall in the fifth round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2001. Since 1900, only two Nova Scotians have ever appeared in the major leagues: lefty Vince Horsman, who made 141 appearances out of the bullpen from 1991-95 for the Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Twins, as well as outfielder Rick Lisi, who went 5-for-16 at the plate across nine games for the Texas Rangers during the 1981 campaign.

In his lone season with the Hilltoppers, Sanford’s 2019 campaign was one of the best in WKU program history. Starting all 56 games while playing every inning in the outfield, Sanford slashed .398/.483/.805 with 88 hits, 178 total bases, 22 home runs, 20 doubles, 66 runs batted in and 65 scored. He also walked 33 times and stole six bases.

With a .402 batting average, 22 home runs and 65 runs batted in heading into the 2019 Conference USA Tournament, Sanford became the first winner of C-USA’s regular-season triple crown (batting average, home run and RBI leader) in the league’s 24-year history. When WKU’s season ended, he led all Division I hitters with an .805 slugging percentage, ranked second with 178 total bases and tied for sixth with 22 home runs.

Sanford became the first Division I hitter with 20 home runs and 20 doubles since 2017 (Niko Hulsizer of Morehead State, Austin Listi of Dallas Baptist and Brent Rooker of Mississippi State). Tulane’s Kody Hoese also had 20 home runs and 20 doubles this season, but Sanford was the first to reach the marks. He hit at least one home run in 12 consecutive weekend series to end the season, with two homers in six of those weekend series. In 18 plate appearances against Power Five opponents, Sanford produced a .412/.444/.765 slash line. In 18 plate appearances against www.D1Baseball.com’s Top 100 Starting or Relief Pitchers, he slashed .438/.500/.813.

At McCook, Sanford was named back-to-back First Team All-Region IX and earned All-Nebraska College Baseball honors among two-year college players. He slashed .356/.424/.671 in 108 games over the course of two seasons with the Indians, accumulating 61 extra-base hits, including 23 home runs, 10 triples and 28 doubles. Sanford scored 86 runs and drove in 94, with five times hit by pitch and 42 walks compared to 72 strikeouts. He produced 40 multi-hit, 21 multi-run and 16 multi-RBI games in his JuCo career.

Upon signing his deal with New York, Sanford would become the 111th Hilltopper to sign a professional contract. MLB’s assigned value for the 105th overall pick is $554,300.{&end}

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(1) comment

topstraight

Congrats to Jake Sanford!! Very deserving and shows it can be done with WKU baseball.

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