Trio of players from JUCO picked in MLB draft

The first two players taken Friday on Day 2 of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft who played in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series were arguably the two best pitchers in the tournament.

JoJo Romero, a left-hander from national champion Yavapai College (Arizona), was taken in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Phillies.

The 6-foot sophomore was the second junior college player taken in the draft and was selected with the 107th pick. In the JUCO World Series, Romero pitched a complete game in the championship, striking out 15 batters with no walks, eight hits and two runs allowed.

He was one of three pitchers selected the JUCO All-Tournament Team.

Devin Smeltzer was also on that team, and his 20-strikeout performance in the semifinal game for San Jacinto College-North (Texas) earned him JUCO’s Robert Purkey Outstanding Pitcher Award.

Smeltzer was one strikeout short of tying a longstanding JUCO record.

Smeltzer, a 6-foot-2 left-hander, was taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers with their fifth-round pick (No. 161 overall).

Another San Jacinto player was taken on the second day. Catcher Ryan January — who exclusively served as the Gators’ designated hitter during JUCO — was taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the eighth round (No. 239 overall).

January made the JUCO All-Tournament Team, hit a tournament-high four home runs and had a .350 batting average over San Jacinto’s six games.

A well-known player at the JUCO World Series who moved on to a four-year school was also drafted.

Dom Thompson-Williams, an outfielder for Iowa Western Community College in 2014 and 2015, was drafted by the New York Yankees in the fifth round (No. 158 overall).

Thompson-Williams was an outfielder for the Reivers and played for the championship-winning team in 2014. He returned to Grand Junction in 2015 with the Reivers before signing with the University of South Carolina.

The left-hander is still playing with the Gamecocks, who are in an NCAA Super Regional tournament starting today.

Thompson-Williams is third among regular starters with a .323 batting average and leads the team with 17 doubles, three triples and 18 stolen bases.


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