‘Lengthy’ Draft Yields ‘Best Available’ 2027 Class

Updated: July 1, 2018

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‘Lengthy’ Draft Yields ‘Best Available’ 2027 Class

by Francis Ferry, NLN baseball beat writer

June 7, 2021: Asheville, North Carolina – With the season nearly 40% complete, and the Borelais once again driving for another run at the Rodriguez Cup, the annual amateur draft proved to be a greater challenge for Aurora’s draft team – headed by GM Will Topham and new Head Scout Jon Donohue. Last years 11th hour hacking incident brought upon the league a plethora of compensation picks as many teams fought the hack with keeping their pocketbooks closed. The end result saw the Borealis not drafting in their (seemingly) traditional last spot in the round, but a (nearly) full half a round later per round.

“We will just cope.” Topham said “This business is about challenges, and facing mid-round 2 talent with our first pick (and a likewise decaying of picks further down) is but just one more. We’ve dealt with the challenges with winning – and we intend to continue with that approach.”

With that said, the Borealis were faced with the task of having two selections in each of the first three rounds – courtesy of the West Virginia Alleghanies in a pair of trades – one that brought the Alleghanies 1st and 3rd in exchange for cash and Aurora’s 4th rounder, and another with Duluth that brought West Virginia’s 2nd rounder after it made a whirlwind tour of the league. That cost the Borealis some more cash and young arm from the IC. Aurora also had lost their 5th round pick to Crystal Lake in the Dan Field deal – the end result being the Borealis having six picks in the first three (technically 5) rounds.

Torres will have a lot to prove to match last years top pick

So with the 32nd pick in the first round (the first of the WV picks) Aurora looked towards starting pitching for the 3rd year in a row – and only the 6th time in Will Topham’s 17 years leading Aurora’s draft process. That starter would be left-hander Miguel Torres from the University of Southern California. Torres is a tall, lanky kid who features a fastball and curve, and uses a forkball as his ‘out pitch’. Torres is a USCBA Scholastic All-Star as a Poli-Sci major (who plans on going into politics once his playing days are over), and was the MVP in the 2024 USCBA World Series (as a freshmen) won by USC – going 6-0 with a 0.73 in that post-season run. For the bulk of his college career Miguel posted promising WHIP and K/BB numbers until a shoulder injury waylaid his junior year. As a result, his senior year numbers look to have suffered. Faced with the option of having a 5th year, Torres – who had already graduated, chose to head to the draft. With the top pitchers in last years pitching heavy draft already moving upward in the system, Torres will be allowed the opportunity to head to Hawaii and start out at Mokule’ia.

Yano has some big shoes to live up to as a first round catcher

With the 35th selection in the first round, Aurora took C Yato Shirane out of Asia University (believed to be Aurora’s first from this international school). The young, catcher was rated “the best hitter and defensive catcher in the draft” as Donohue succinctly put it, joins the ranks of Manny Castro and Miguel Angel Galvez – catchers drafted by Aurora in the first round. Shirane is a pull hitter, with just moderate power – particularly to the gaps when he gets his arms extended. Although coaches worry about his propensity to swing at most pitches, they are encouraged by his making contact with most swings. An athletic guy, he won’t confuse people for ‘Fido’ Castro, as speed is not a feature of his game. Yato’s college career was a mixed bag of highs and lows – with his senior year not especially memorable. He was a four-year starter – not an all-star, suffered no serious injuries, he just went out every day and did his job. Sometimes there’s just nothing wrong with a guy like that. Aurora already has five catchers under contract at Short A Mokule’ia, so clearly something will need to give there, but the Borealis did not draft a catcher last year, so it’ll be a given that Shirane will begin his professional career as the starter in Hawaii.

Clark has some of the best stuff in the draft – but will it translate to success?

It was a long wait for Aurora’s next selection (35th in the 2nd round, 76th overall), and with that pick the Borealis went with a flyer – a bean pole of a kid out of high school – 6’ 11” Brian Clark, a LH reliever out of Bishop Moore HS – whose senior year was ended with a shoulder injury, on the eve of the National HS Championships – which may have hurt the Hornets chances – although he no doubt would have been long gone by the time the 25-inning decisive game with Seton Hall eliminated Bishop Moore. Yes, you heard me right – 25-innings. Clark was a high-strikeout pitcher, striking out 85 while walking just 13 in his 64-career innings. Featuring a fastball and a slider that scouts think could become a ‘devestating’ pitch, some in Aurora’s organization feel that he could even make an effective starter. “Not all great starters are Blessed with great stamina,” Jon Donohue pointed out “Just look no further than ‘Tugboat’.” The weeks of biggest question is will he even pitch for Aurora. He has another 6-weeks of rehab, but he also has a handful of scholarship offers and apparently is seriously considering college (rumors have Iowa having the inside track). Should he sign, don’t be shocked it Aurora uses him in a starting role, or as a closer.

Mario was a reach – will he mature into a player for Aurora

Aurora’s own pick in the 2nd round (35th, 79th overall) was used to address an organizational depth issue – and CF Mario Flores out of Stanford was the choice. Flores was having a solid college career as a four-year starter when an elbow injury waylaid his season. Mario is described as a ‘servicable’ outfielder who covers a lot of ground, with a strong arm (if not glove) with the potential to develop greater power than he’s shown in college. He’s also shown signs of being a better than average hitter. Flores is also realistic about his future, and is seriously considering eschewing baseball for beginning his graduate education in Early Childhood Education. Should he sign with the Borealis, he’ll likely be the Opening Day LF at Mokule’ia.

Stone has the tools to be a future lead-off guy for Aurora, but he’s a lot of work to do

Flores’ starting in LF and not his accustomed CF is due to the presence of Aurora’s first of two 3rd round picks (34th, 113th overall) – CF Paul Stone (out of West Virginia, ironically), who is an athletically built, speedy, defensive whiz in CF. The young Texan took advantage of some of the USCBA’s archaic rules that allow a student-athlete a 5th year of eligibility, and ended up starting four of those five years. As seems to be the case this year, Aurora is looking at the full body of work their draftees have put together – despite depressed senior year stats, and Stone is no exception. Aurora feels if Paul puts his mind to it he has enough raw skills that his athletic nature will put him over the top. Stone has expressed an interest in continuing his baseball career, but as a 5th year player, he has begun his graduate studies (in Geology, specifically Natural Resource Efficency – whatever that is) and he has also said he’s not adverse to continuing those studies. Say what you may about the quality of player the Borealis have drafted, they certainly aren’t the dullest knives in the drawer.

Wilson will need to focus on his control and figure out how to get hitters out

With the last pick on the first day of the Draft (37th in the 3rd, 116th overall), Aurora selected their second starting pitcher of the draft – a righty out of Tulane, Tim Wilson from Vancouver, Washington – which excited Aurora announcer George Crocker – until it was pointed out to the Vancouver, BC native that Wilson was from the American version of Captain George Vancouver’s name sake town. “We felt pretty good picking up Wilson there at the end of the 3rd round – out scouting rubric graded Tim out as the 10th best starter in the draft.” (please note: #1 selection Miguel Torres as 14th on that chart, we have learned) Wilson is a strong guy with four solid pitches – Fastball, curve, slider and change, but the biggest knock on him is his pitches just don’t have enough on them to fool most hitters. This forces him to nibble at the corners, and the young arm’s control just isn’t up to the task – yet. Tim’s senior year was his first as a full-time starter and he was 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 13 starts. With a WHIP at a respectable 1.17 and a BABIP of .213, there is some hope here. We are likely to see Wilson move into the rotation at Mokule’ia.

So there you have it, the beginning of Aurora’s 2027 draft class. With nothing in the 4th and 5th rounds, Aurora will wait 77 picks before the select at the end of the 6th round with the 194th pick. Many have suggested this was a difficult class to sort through, and time will tell who will be the star of the class, but in the immediacy, we shall have some idea in a couple of months as to what this years class will look like for Aurora. Look for Ray D. Enze’s blog entry for the rest of this year’s draft.