With Five Matadors selected in the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft, the Arizona Western College Matador Baseball program has added one of the deepest classes to a strong list of professional ballplayers that includes World Series Champions Bengie Molina and Sergio Romo.
The five drafted in June joined three other former Mats who played in Yuma under Head Coach Drew Keehn. With Zach Huffins and Gabe Ponce each going directly to minor league rosters, they join Sean Roby as to make it back-to-back seasons in which Arizona Western has seen Mats go from Kammann Field to the Pro’s in just a matter of months.
Huffins has tallied four multi-hit games in his last ten games with the Tampa Bay Rays’ rookie league affiliate in the Gulf Coast League. That has included a stretch of four games in which he went 6 for 13. He has also swiped four bases for the GCL Rays. Huffins is coming off of a spring in which he led the Matadors in Home Runs, Stolen Bases, and RBI after which he was selected by the Rays in the 13th round.
Same organization, different affiliate for Pitcher Jayden Murray who is also with the Tampa Bay Rays after being drafted in June out of Dixie State. Murray is with the Princeton Rays, the Advanced-Rookie League team. Murray started his professional career with three scoreless outings including his first professional start on June 29th. Murray has since alternated between the bullpen and rotation with success having thrown nine innings and an ERA of exactly 3.00.
Trayson Kubo was selected in June by the Oakland Athletics out of Stephen F. Austin. Kubo got off to a solid start with three scoreless outings, stretching five innings and a save over the appearances. The last four outings have seen his ERA elevate to 9.82 but Kubo has been called on to fill in a variety of roles for the AZL Athletics Green in the Arizona Rookie League.
The final Matador selected in June was Gabe Ponce, a 28th rounder by the Toronto Blue Jays. Ponce has made six starts for the Vancouver Canadians with just one appearance in which he surrendered more than one run. Still, Ponce’s 4.80 ERA in which he has struck out nine hitters in 15 innings has been impactful as he has yet to surrender a home run.
Also selected in June was former Matador Najee Gaskins has excelled in his short time with the San Francisco Giants organization having returned to the state of Arizona for the AZL Giants. Gaskins is off to a great start hitting .345 with a pair of triples and eight stolen bases. He’s been on base nearly half the time with a .457 OBP. In thirteen games, he’s already scored eight runs and tallied ten hits. Gaskins was selected by the Giants in June out of St. Cloud State in Minnesota after spending two seasons with the Matadors in Yuma.
Also in the Giants’ Organization, Sean Roby was a 12th round pick out of Arizona Western College and showcased the same power that made him a force in the ACCAC during his first year in professional baseball. Now in year two, Roby is with the Giants’ short-season class A affiliate, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Roby is third on the Volcanoes with 28 RBI while batting .326. In 77 professional games, Roby has a career average of .305.
Another Matador advancing quickly through the professional ranks is infielder Irving Lopez. Now in his third professional season, Lopez was a 19th round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals out of Florida International where he finished up his collegiate career. Lopez has moved quickly, receiving promotions during each of his first three years and advanced to the next level in each off-season. 2019 has been no different after Lopez completed the 2018 season in High-A, he started the season in AA Springfield with a pair of walk-off home runs in the team’s first three games. That quickly earned Lopez another promotion to the Cardinals’ AAA Affiliate in Memphis where he hit .300 in 21 games. Due to roster shuffling, Lopez was assigned back to Springfield on July 15th but figures to get more opportunities in the final third of the season.
Carlos Vega was drafted in 2018 from Southeast Missouri State by the Chicago Cubs. Vega is currently with the Class-A Affiliate South Bend Cubs where he has shown power stuff having struck out 13 batters in 11.1 innings pitched. Vega currently holds a 3.18 ERA in 11.1 innings over two levels in 2019.
There is still plenty of season left with the minor league levels wrapping up their regular seasons at the end of August.
Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma.