Missouri State junior Pierce Johnson became the latest Bear to be selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft Monday evening, as the Chicago Cubs selected the right-handed pitcher in the Comp Round with the 43rd overall pick. Johnson becomes the Bears’ highest overall draftee since the Washington Nationals selected Ross Detwiler with the sixth overall pick of the 2007 Draft.
Johnson is coming off one of the most dominant seasons in Bears’ history in 2012, setting the Missouri State single-season strikeout record with 119 punchouts in 99.2 innings to help MSU post a Division I-leading team ERA of 2.57. The Arvada, Colo., product leads the Missouri Valley Conference in total strikeouts and ranks ninth in the nation in the same category this season after helping guide the Bears (40-22) to their first NCAA Regional appearance in nine years. Overall, Johnson posted a 4-6 mark and a 2.53 earned run average, while holding the opposition to a .235 batting average in 14 starts this season.
The Kansas City Royals have selected Kyle Zimmer, a right-handed pitcher from the University of San Francisco, with the fifth overall pick of the June Free Agent Draft. The 20-year-old Zimmer, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-handed starter, went 5-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 13 starts, including three complete games, for the Dons in 2012.
The St. Louis Cardinals were one of two teams that had more than four picks in the first day of the draft. With a compensation pick for Albert Pujols leaving, the Cardinals picked Texas A & M pitcher Michael Wacha with the 19th overall pick. In 16 starts for the Aggies this season, Wacha went 9-1 with a 2.06 ERA. In his 113 1/3 innings, Wacha struck out 116 and walked 20. Opponents hit just .228 off Wacha. The Cardinals original pick in the order was four spots down and the club selected James Ramsey, an outfielder from Florida State with the 23rd pick overall. Rounding out the team’s Day 1 picks were infielders Stephen Piscotty (No. 36) Patrick Wisdom (No. 52) and catcher Stephen Bean (No. 59). Those picks came with the relief pitcher Ocatavio Dotel signing with Detroit and starting pitcher Edwin Jackson signing with Washington.