WICHITA (TNS) — The work from Todd Butler's first two recruiting classes led to five Shockers being drafted in the first nine rounds of the 2018 MLB draft.
After Alec Bohm was taken No. 3 overall by the Philadelphia Phillies and Greyson Jenista went in the second round to the Atlanta Braves on Monday, Codi Heuer (sixth round to the Chicago White Sox), Gunnar Troutwine (ninth round to the Chicago White Sox), and Chandler Sandburn (ninth round to the Texas Rangers) were all selected on Tuesday.
All five went from being undrafted out of high school with few to no Division I offers to being drafted high in the MLB draft before leaving Wichita State. Troutwine and Sandburn are graduated seniors, while Bohm, Jenista and Heuer are juniors expected to sign professional contracts.
"Our coaching staff did a great job identifying guys that had talent that was maybe untapped and then helping them get to where they needed to be," Butler said. "I'm really proud of them and the work they've put into our program. You look at the history of the program and guys know they can come here and reach their goals.
"It's great for our program and it's great for our next group."
While all five demonstrated a high work ethic to develop into a professional prospect at WSU, Butler was particularly impressed by the route of Heuer, a 6-foot-4 pitcher from Windsor, Colo. who came to WSU as a walk-on.
Not because Butler didn't want to give him a scholarship, but because, according to Butler, the program didn't have enough scholarship money to offer for the 2016 season.
"He trusted what we were doing and trusted the plan that first year of paying his way and then I told him I would put him on scholarship the second year," Butler said. "Codi was very good in the classroom and took care of business and then two years later, he goes in the sixth round."
As WSU's Friday night starter, Heuer finished 6-5 with a 4.31 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 79-plus innings. He could remain a starter in the White Sox's farm system or transition to a reliever.
Butler believes playing position players like Bohm (third base), Jenista (first base/outfield), and Troutwine (catcher) as freshman was crucial in their development.
Bohm's bat gave him an argument for the best hitter in college baseball, while Jenista was the Cape Cod Summer League MVP in 2017 and hit .309 with 54 runs, nine home runs, 38 RBI, 50 walks, and 12 stolen bases. After playing injured last season, Troutwine bounced back with a strong senior year, posting a .302 average with 14 doubles, seven home runs, and 48 RBI.
"We've been recruiting off of them for a year or two now," Butler said. "Those guys are helping our program get better. It's a testament that we do have good players in our program and we had them playing as freshman. It just takes time to develop them into the players they are today."
Seeing Troutwine and Sandburn, who posted nine saves with a 2.94 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 33-plus innings, drafted was a special moment for Butler since both were part of his first recruiting class at WSU.
"We're excited to see those guys go and play professional baseball," Butler said. "Both of them finished up their degrees and now they're moving onto the next level. I was thankful to have them for four years.
"When I got here, we had zero recruits coming in and we had to catch up in that first class with guys like those two and Trey Vickers and Cody Tyler. Those guys reached their potential and hopefully they all get a shot at the next level."