First-round pick Toglia 'thankful' Rockies picked him

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Michael Toglia was taken by the Colorado Rockies on Monday in the first round of the 2019 draft. Toglia was also selected by the Rockies out of high school, choosing to attend UCLA instead.

It seems Michael Toglia was destined to play for the Colorado Rockies.

Not only was he drafted by Colorado out of high school and again on Monday in the first round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft, but the UCLA first baseman was drafted by the Rockies in his Gig Harbor, Washington, Little League.

"That was only one year, it's called the Major league, and they have a draft, too, so it's funny, I was literally drafted by the Rockies even though I was only 10 years old," Toglia said Tuesday on a conference call. "Who would have thought it would foreshadow something as cool and as big as this down the road?"

It's likely that Toglia will be starting his pro career in a Rockies uniform with the Grand Junction Rockies. Every Colorado first draft pick since the club moved from Casper, Wyoming, to Suplizio Field in 2012 has started out in Grand Junction.

"I think that's really special," Toglia said of being drafted twice by Colorado. "I'm really thankful they took a chance on me. They took me out of high school and I was thankful then. It's actually ironic, because I played for the Rockies on my Little League team, too, so life kind of goes in full circle like that. I'm thankful for everything the Rockies have done for me."

Before he starts his pro career, Toglia wants to help UCLA bring home a championship — the Bruins play Michigan in a Super Regional starting Friday in Los Angeles. Once his college season is over, the junior will sign his contract.

"Not quite sure, but I believe as soon as we're done in Omaha I'm ready to go," he said.

The Rockies went primarily with college players — and loaded up on pitchers — on the second day of the draft.

They took five right-handed college pitchers, starting with UConn's Jacob Wallace in the third round. He's been exclusively a reliever in college and dominated in the Cape Cod league last summer, not allowing a run in 12 appearances. With a two-seam fastball consistently in the low 90s and a four-seamer that sits between 95-98 mph, he was termed a prototypical power closer by MLB.com.

Brenton Doyle was Colorado's fourth-round pick, a right fielder from Division II Shepherd University (West Virginia). He was a third-team All-America selection by the ABCA after hitting .392 with 17 doubles, six triples and 13 home runs.

Four more right-handed pitchers followed in the fifth through eighth rounds, including another Mississippi product, Will Ethridge. Last year's first-round pick, Ryan Rolison, pitched at Ole Miss and has already climbed to High-A Lancaster.

Edthridge pitched out of the bullpen for two years before becoming the Rebels' No. 1 starter this season, with a fastball in the low to mid 90s from his three-quarters delivery.

Gavin Hollowell, a righty out of St. John's was taken in the sixth round, Jared Horn from Cal in the seventh round and Jason Kostyshock from Arkansas in the eighth round. All of the pitchers are juniors.

Isaac Collins, a junior second baseman from Creighton, was taken in the ninth round. The Bluejays were eliminated in the regionals by Michigan on Monday. Collins was Creighton's leadoff hitter all season, hitting .293 with 26 extra-base hits and 13 stolen bases.

Colorado's final pick of the day was Jack Yalowitz, a left-handed hitting right fielder out of the University of Illinois. Yalowitz started all but one game for the Fighting Illini this season, hitting .295 with 31 RBI.

Two players who were in Grand Junction last week playing in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series were drafted on Tuesday. Chipola College (Florida) second baseman Ivan Johnson was taken in the fourth round by Cincinnati, and Cowley College (Kansas) catcher Cody Milligan was a ninth-round pick of Atlanta. Milligan, who made the all-tournament team, is projected as a second baseman.

The draft concludes today with rounds 11-40.

Toglia is a rarity as a switch-hitting first baseman, who can also play a corner outfield spot.

"Naturally I'm right-handed, but I throw left-handed and my dad kind of questioned that and said, 'Why don't you try to hit left-handed?' and that came naturally, too," Toglia said. "I built off that and by the time I was in high school I was a full-time switch hitter and slowly got more looks left-handed and got comfortable on both sides. Now I'm to a point where I don't really care what pitcher's throwing, I'll hit from either side."

He said he's also naturally competitive and learned his freshman year at UCLA that you have to grind through the ups and downs of a season.

"You just have to persevere," he said. "There are people who go through much worse problems than a slump in baseball."

He's never been to Coors Field, but from what he's heard, his game would play well there, since he can hit to all fields. He's hitting .319 for the Bruins and has started all 60 games this season, with 16 doubles, 16 home runs and 61 RBI.

"I want to win. I want to show I'm a winner," he said. "I want to bring that to each level and move up and get to Coors Field as fast as I can and bring a championship home."

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