East County hit a triple in last week’s Major League Baseball draft.
Freedom High star shortstop Kyren Paris, who recently completed his senior high school season, was drafted by Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels in the second round (55th pick); the New York Yankees drafted former Heritage High and St. Mary’s College designated hitter and pitcher Kevin Milam in the 14th round (435th pick); and the Atlanta Braves nabbed former Liberty High, Butte College and University of Washington outfielder Connor Blair in the 15th round (457th pick).
“Obviously the first day you have the big names, like Kyren, and we were extremely happy for him, and to see Kevin and a couple of the other guys names pop up there was real exciting,” said Heritage head coach Kevin Brannan.
Paris, the 6-foot, 167-pound shortstop, officially signed with the Angels for $1.4 million Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times, citing a club official who was not authorized to publicly comment.
Paris was slated to begin his professional career Wednesday with the Angels’ rookie affiliate in Arizona.
“I am super excited to be down here in Anaheim,” Paris said on the Angels’ television broadcast Tuesday night. “Everything is squared away, so I am looking forward to going out and playing, getting better, and one day playing here and helping the team win.”
Paris, who doesn’t turn 18 until November, entered the draft as one of the better shortstop prospects, and the 50th best overall player, according to MLB.com.
He hit .312 with 83 hits, 34 RBIs and 71 runs in 91 games over four seasons for the Falcons, according to Maxpreps.com, and is known as a standout defensive player.
“This is awesome,” said Freedom High head coach Ken Evanson. “He’s always been a hard worker, a great teammate and a great person to coach. “I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Meanwhile, Milam, fresh off an impressive three-year campaign with St. Mary’s College, is expected to sign with the Yankees.
Milam, a 2016 Heritage graduate, did not respond to requests for comment.
The 6-foot, 200-pound two-way star hit .308 at St. Mary’s, with 24 home runs, 43 doubles, 127 RBIs and a .414 on-base percentage in three seasons, while also compiling a 13-9 pitching record with a 3.99 ERA, 182 strikeouts and 11 saves in 180.1 innings pitched.
“Kevin is arguably one of the best baseball players ever to wear a Gael uniform,” said outgoing St. Mary’s head coach Eric Valenzuela in a release by the school. “He has hit in the middle of our lineup and pitched in a significant role all three years for us. He has been a part of lots of wins. I am so proud of him.”
Brannan, Milam’s high school coach, was also quick to praise his former star Patriot.
“It couldn’t have happened to a nicer kid,” Brannan said. “He busted his butt so hard. He was one of those players that had ability and put a little work ethic behind it, and it’s pretty nice to see it pay off for him.”
Blair, an outfielder who graduated from Liberty High in 2016 before moving on to Butte College and the University of Washington, hit .291 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs in 36 games as a junior for the Huskies in an injury-shortened single season.
He could not be reached for comment at press time. It’s unclear if he’s signed with the Braves.
His selection last week quickly lit up the Liberty Baseball Twitter account.
“Liberty Baseball alum Connor Blair was a stud at Liberty, then was a stud at Butte College, then was a stud at the University of Washington and now is going to be a stud with the Atlanta Braves,” it read, shortly after his selection.
“I’m very excited for Connor and his family,” said Huskies coach Lindsay Meggs in a University of Washington press release. “While Connor’s season was cut short due to injury, he put up some good numbers. Connor is raw but very talented and as he figures this thing out, he could turn some heads.”