High School Sports

Top MLB draft picks from Tarrant area eager to ignite pro careers

Southlake Carroll Dragons shortstop Hudson Sanchez (10) was selected by the San Diego Padres with the 24th pick in the first round of last week’s MLB draft.
Southlake Carroll Dragons shortstop Hudson Sanchez (10) was selected by the San Diego Padres with the 24th pick in the first round of last week’s MLB draft. Special to the Star-Telegram

Hudson Sanchez’s sixth and final home run at Southlake Carroll was a towering solo shot to left-center field, but it was more than just an insurance run in a 2-0 bi-district victory over Mansfield.

It showed the newly developed power the shortstop displayed all year long.

That power, said Carroll coach Larry Hughes, along with his improved speed as a base runner, is what transformed Sanchez (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) from a gifted high school athlete into a first-round draft pick.

Sanchez, selected 24th overall by the San Diego Padres, signed a deal Tuesday worth $1 million, according to the MLB Network. Sanchez had committed to Texas A&M after his sophomore season in 2014.

Sanchez joined Oklahoma’s Sheldon Neuse (Keller Fossil Ridge) and Justin Northwest’s Dustin May as the three Tarrant County-area players taken in the first three rounds of the MLB draft.

“The scouts have been on him for a few years, but he showed quite a bit more power during his senior season, and his offensive tools had really improved,” Hughes said of Sanchez. “He was hitting the ball harder more consistently and showed more base-stealing speed.”

In 30 games, Sanchez drove in 29 runs, hit .374 and had more home runs [six] than strike outs [five]. Before the draft, Sanchez was ranked by MLB.com as the 91st-best prospect.

“By drafting him in the first round, the San Diego Padres certainly think he has a good chance to play major league ball, and that’s the most important thing,” Hughes said.

Neuse, a third baseman taken in the second round (58th overall) by the Washington Nationals, is headed to the Auburn (N.Y.) Doubledays for short-season rookie ball.

Neuse batted .369 with 10 home runs, and was one of the most versatile college prospects in the country. He was 4-1 with five saves as a relief pitcher in his junior season and finished his collegiate career with a 1.60 ERA.

“To me he’s such a safe, can’t-miss draft choice,” Fossil Ridge coach Doug Dulany said. “If something happens and they can’t find a spot within the organization for him as a position player, I’ve heard from a lot of scouts who say he’d make a good catcher, and if that doesn’t work, he’s got a 94 mph fastball with a filthy slider, so he’ll catch on somewhere and he’ll move up quickly with his skill set.”

Said Neuse: “This is what my life has been all about since I was 9 years old to this point. Hearing my name called. I can’t explain the feeling, but it’s very exciting. Nothing has ever been of higher value or of more importance to me than that moment, and now it’s all about climbing that ladder within the organization.”

May took some time to grow into his 6-foot, 6-inch frame. But when everything clicked his senior season, the pitcher began to shoot up draft boards. It resulted in being taken in the third round by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 101st pick. He was the first player drafted directly from Northwest High School.

May signed minor league deal Saturday worth $1 million, well above the $590,800 slot value for the 101st pick, according to MLB.com.

May’s fastball was consistently clocked at 90 to 93 mph and reached 95 in the early part of the season, according to Northwest coach John Herrick.

“He’s an intimidating presence up there, and his delivery is very smooth, even though it looks like a lot of knees and elbows coming at you,” Herrick said. “He was dominant for us every time he took the mound, and if anyone deserves this opportunity, it’s him, because he’s an even better young man than he is a pitcher.”

May will join the Arizona League Dodgers in Phoenix for rookie ball.

“Baseball has always been the dream,” May said. “Now it’s time to compete. Time to go get it.”

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