Just over week ago, the first round of the 2020 Major League Baseball draft took place.
No Penn players were drafted then, or in the later rounds that took place the following day due to the team’s slow start, followed by the early cancellation of the collegiate season and the shortening of the MLB draft to five rounds from its usual 40.
However, baseball has been one of the most successful of all Penn teams in getting players drafted by professional franchises. Since 2015, seven Quakers have been drafted by MLB teams.
Today, we take a look at where they are now.
In 2015, two Penn baseball alumni were drafted.
Pitcher Ronnie Glenn was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 22nd round. Glenn last played pro baseball in 2017, pitching in A-level ball primarily in a relief capacity. After three years with the Angels, Glenn stopped playing professionally. He currently serves as a relationship manager at Congress Wealth Management.
Catcher Austin Bossart is the highest drafted player from Penn in the last five years; he was picked by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 14th round, with the 414th overall pick. After playing for the Philadelphia Phillies for five seasons, primarily in A+ and AA ball, he was traded to the Mets organization for longtime MLB pitcher Jason Vargas and $2 million in cash.
Bossart spent the 2019 season playing AA-level baseball. Over 19 games played for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Bossart batted .200 with a .300 OBP. As a primarily defensive catcher, Bossart has a career fielding percentage of 99% and has thrown out at least 20 runners attempting to steal over each of his past professional seasons.
In 2017, four Penn players — all pitchers — were drafted.
Relief pitcher Jake Nelson was the only to not sign with the team who drafted him. After being drafted in the 33rd round by the Detroit Tigers, Nelson sat out the 2018 season due to injury. He has pitched the last two seasons for Texas A&M, most recently playing six games in the 2020 season before its cancellation.
Pitcher Adam Bleday was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 27th round. His most recent pro season was 2018, in A-level ball with the Quad Cities River Bandits. There, he recorded a 1.96 ERA. Bleday has not played professionally since but is still involved in baseball, serving as a developmental pitching coach for the Baltimore Orioles.
Jake Cousins was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 20th round, 613rd overall, after a season in which he received unanimous first team All-Ivy recognition. After pitching for two seasons under the Nationals, Cousins signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. Cousins played both A and rookie-level ball under the Brewers in 2019; most recently, he played seven games for the Arizona League Brewers Blue, over which he recorded a 2.57 ERA with one save.
Perhaps most notable of the 2017 Penn draftees is relief pitcher Billy Lescher, who was drafted in the 17th round by the Detroit Tigers, 515th overall. Lescher played his 2019 season between A+ and AA-level baseball. In AA with the Erie SeaWolves, Lescher had a 4.63 ERA over six games played. Lescher finished out his season in A+ ball with the Lakeland Flying Tigers, where he played 28 games and recorded a 2.53 ERA.
Odd year luck, anyone?
Catcher Matt O’Neill was the only Quaker to be drafted in 2019. Taken by the New York Mets in the 20th round as the 598th overall pick, O’Neill came off of a senior year where he was unanimously named a first team All-Ivy selection, led the Ivy League with a .405 batting average, and set the program record for walks in a season.
In the 2019 season, immediately after graduation, O’Neill played in the Gulf Coast League Mets, a Rookie-level team whose season begins after the draft. After batting .286 with a .447 on-base percentage, O’Neill finished his season with eight games for the Kingsport Mets in the Appalachian League, a Rookie advanced league, where he batted .231 with a .310 OBP.
In the midst of halted sports, the fate of the 2020 Minor League Baseball season is looking less and less optimistic by the day; when coupled with proposed cuts to the number of MiLB teams and a lack of financial support, minor league players’ futures look increasingly uncertain.
Out of seven players drafted in the past five years, five Quakers currently play professionally in Minor League Baseball. Once baseball resumes, attending local minor league games can be a cheap and convenient way to watch and support Penn baseball alumni who are playing professionally.