A quartet of Washington State Cougars will have the opportunity to begin their professional careers after being selected in the MLB Draft: RHP Parker McFadden, selected in the 14th round by the Baltimore Orioles; LHP Scotty Sunitsch, selected in the 16th round by the Milwaukee Brewers; RHP Ryan Walker, selected in the 31st round by the San Francisco Giants; and infielder Justin Harrer, selected in the 35th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
McFadden, Sunitsch and Walker clearly were the Cougs’ best pitchers this season, with Sunitsch leading the way as the Friday night starter, McFadden eventually transitioning out of a dominant bullpen role and into the rotation, and Walker holding down the closer’s role. Harrer, meanwhile, led the team in home runs while primarily playing left field but also spending some time at second base.
McFadden is a junior right hander who posted a season ERA of 3.56, but that was ballooned by a rough final start against Utah. Prior to that, he had a sterling 2.33 ERA, striking out 41 and walking 25 in in 27 innings, and he allowed opponents to hit just .176 on the season. He was originally drafted out of Yelm High School in the 20th round by the Seattle Mariners in 2015, so he has improved his stock some. However, he could also decide to come back for his senior season as the presumed Friday night starter.
Sunitsch is a lefty who posted a 3.74 ERA in 14 starts as the team’s workhorse. He threw 84 1⁄3 innings, nearly 40 innings more than anyone else on the squad. He had the highlight of the year when he threw the first 9-inning no hitter for WSU since 1976, back in April against the Oregon Ducks. For the season, he struck out 74 and walked just 27.
Walker is a righty who was used heavily in high leverage situations for the Cougs. He managed just five saves, but that (of course) had a lot to do with the team’s overall poor record, as he routinely worked multiple innings to either close out a game or keep the Cougs in contact to have a chance to win. He was incredible for the first 2 1⁄2 months of the season; near the end of April, his ERA had dropped all the way to 2.23 after he closed out the front end of a double header against Washington with 1 2⁄3 strong innings. Things were difficult after that, though; he was called on to close out the back half of that double header as well, but he blew that save and went on to give up 20 runs in his final eight appearances.
Harrer gave the Cougs some much-needed pop in the lineup, hitting 11 home runs on his way to a line of .253/.341/.468 (avg/obp/slug). Nine of those homers came in his 30 Pac-12 games. He primarily played outfield for the Cougars, but did play 2nd base at times, and he’s listed as a shortstop in the MLB draft tracker, which is presumably how the Pirates announced him, thinking maybe he could provide some value as a professional as an infielder with some power. Harrer is a junior, and could choose to return to school.
The Cougars’ best hitter, Blake Clanton, went undrafted after hitting .350/.430/.644. One can only assume the senior made it known to scouts that he did not intend to pursue professional baseball.