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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Three Lobos picked in MLB draft

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By William Aranda / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Senior outfielder Chase Harris runs to home base as the baseball flies past him during the game against Air Force on May 17. Harris is one of three athletes from UNM’s baseball team to be selected in the MLB Draft.

What does one say when their childhood dream becomes reality?

For UNM outfielder Chase Harris, there wasn’t much to talk about after being selected in the 14th round by the Philadelphia Phillies in the MLB draft on Saturday.

“I’m speechless,” Harris said. “The first part of my dream came true, and now I get to pursue my dream in the big leagues. I’m honored to be heading to Philadelphia.”

Two other Lobos were also selected in the MLB draft: pitcher Josh Walker went in the 22nd round to the Baltimore Orioles and junior catcher Alex Real was taken by the Minnesota Twins in the 24th round.

Harris was named an All-Mountain West first team selection and on Friday was selected as the National Collegiate Baseball Writer Association’s District VIII Player of the Year. He also led UNM in almost every offensive category this season.

Lobo head coach Ray Birmingham said he thought Harris would go in the top 10 or 15 rounds.

“He’s a very tools-y player, and he plays his butt off,” he said.

Walker finished his career with 26 wins, which is second all-time in program history. He also ranks third in winning percentage at .743.

Real hit .320 this season and was third in the nation in doubles with 25.

During Birmingham’s seven-year tenure, 25 players have been drafted, including a school-record seven players selected last year.

Overall, 24 Mountain West players were chosen in this year’s draft, which is the second largest in conference history — one short of the record 25 players taken in 2007.

UNLV pitcher Erick Fedde was the highest draftee from the MW, as he was selected by the Washington Nationals with the 18th overall pick. Fedde was named the Mountain West Pitcher of the Year this season.

Collier named All-American

On Friday, New Mexico outfielder Danny Collier was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American.

Initially Collier was left off the list after a clerical error.

“Danny is a cool story for me because he’s a walk-on,” UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. “He’s going to end up being another New Mexico kid who’s one of the best hitters in the country and a professional draft pick.”

A native of Albuquerque, Collier hit .353 on the year, drove in 20 runs and scored 20 runs. He started 33 games this past season and reached safely in all but one of those contests.

Collier was also named Mountain West Freshman of the Year this past season, despite missing 20 games.

“At the end of the season he was playing very well,” Birmingham said. “He’s one of the top freshman hitters in the nation. As the season went along his defense kept improving, and his speed is great. He makes things happen.”

This is the fourth-straight season that the Lobos have had a freshman All-American: DJ Peterson earned the honor in 2011, Ryan Padilla was named one in 2012 and Sam Haggerty garnered the recognition in 2013 after being named Co-Freshman of the Year.

Nevada’s Trenton Brooks and Air Force’s Tyler Jones were the other two Mountain West honorees.
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Thomas Romero-Salas is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. Contact him at sports@dailylobo.com or via Twitter @ThomasRomeroS._