Chase Harris became the first University of New Mexico baseball player selected in the 2014 MLB Draft Saturday when the Philadelphia Phillies took him in the 14th round at No. 412 overall. Josh Walker was taken by the Baltimore Orioles in the 22nd round and junior catcher Alex Real went in the 24th round to the Minnesota Twins.
The Lobos have now had 25 players drafted in head coach Ray Birmingham’s seven years at the helm of the program, including a school-record seven players selected last season.
“I’m speechless,” Harris, a native of Boise, Idaho, said. “The first part of my dream just came true, and now I get to pursue my dream in the big leagues. I’m honored to be heading to Philadelphia.”
Harris, a senior who was an All-Mountain West first team selection and the National Collegiate Baseball Writer Association’s District VIII Player of the Year this season, is a first-time draftee. He led the Lobos in virtually every offensive category this season: average (.377), at bats (247), hits (93), triples (5), home runs (8), RBIs (63), slugging (.539) and on-base percentage (.432). The only categories he didn’t lead in — runs (46), doubles (11) and stolen bases (13) — he finished second.
He ranks eighth in the nation in hits and RBIs per game (1.09) and played excellent defense for UNM, finishing with four outfield assists. He started all 117 games in right field for UNM over the last two seasons, which is the sixth longest consecutive starts streak in program history.
He is the 28th highest Lobo ever selected in the first-year player draft.
Walker, a right-handed pitcher from Rio Rancho, was one of the most successful pitchers to ever play for UNM and the first Lobo hurler to ever earn Preseason All-America honors, which he did prior to this season.
He finished with 26 career wins, second all-time and one behind the school record, and third in winning percentage at .743 (26-9). He also ranks in the top 10 in career appearances (62, T-8th), innings pitched (267.1, 8th) and saves (8, T-7th). An excellent control pitcher, he walked just 1.7 batters per nine innings in his career.
Walker’s junior season in 2013 was one of the best ever by a Lobo pitcher. He went 11-1 with seven saves and a 3.66 ERA in 29 appearances. He won his first 11 decisions and allowed opponents to hit just .258 off him.
Real, a Johnny Bench Award semifinalist and All-Mountain West first team honoree this season, was the 710th overall selection. Former Lobo catcher Mitch Garver was a ninth-round pick by the Twins last season.
The native of Anthem, Ariz., hit .320 this season and ranks third in the nation with 25 doubles. He scored 37 runs, drove in 47 and added a triple and two homers to his double total. His .465 slugging percentage was second on the team behind Harris.