LCSC has five players selected in MLB draft
Lewis-Clark State College catcher Kawika Emsley-Pai, pitcher Tyler Knigge, and infielders Josh Ashenbrenner, Todd Muecklisch, and Brian Burke were selected Tuesday during the second day of the Major League Baseball amateur draft, bringing the overall total of Warriors selected in draft history to 115.
Emsley-Pai and Knigge are both juniors, while Ashenbrenner, Muecklisch and Burke are seniors. They were the five Warriors selected during rounds 2-30 of the draft. The final 20 rounds will be held on Wednesday.
Emsley-Pai, who hails from Mill Creek, Wash., was selected with the sixth pick in the 10th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 5-foot-11 195-pound switch hitter was the 301st player selected overall.
Knigge, who is from Lewiston, went two rounds later to the defending National League champion Philadelphia Phillies. The 6-foot-4 215-pounder was the 381st pick overall.
Ashenbrenner was the No. 533 selection overall and was selected by Detroit. The 6-foot, 190-pound product of Kirkland, Wash., was selected in the 18th round.
Muecklisch, who missed most of this season with an injury, was selected in the 26th round with the 797th pick overall by Florida. Muecklisch is a 5-10, 175-pound infielder/outfielder from Auburn, Wash.
Burke was the final LCSC pick of the day as the Minnesota Twins selected him in the 29th round with the 885th pick overall. Burke is 6-2 and weighs 225, and is from Lancaster, Calif.
Emsley-Pai said he is scheduled to meet with a Phillies representative in the Seattle area on Tuesday night to discuss a contact, while Knigge will do the same with a Phillies’ representative on Friday. Both are expected to sign and forego their final year at LCSC. The three seniors also are expected to sign this week.
Emsley-Pai came to LCSC via the University of Texas where he spent his freshman season. Emsley-Pai started 42 games as a sophomore and hit .283 with seven doubles, two triples, and two home runs. He threw out three of seven base runners trying to steal and had a .986 fielding percentage.
This season, Emsley-Pai played in 40 games and started 33, missing some time because of back problems. He still hit .342 with 11 doubles and four home runs. He had a slugging percentage of .538 and a team-best on-base percentage of .494. He again was deadly against baserunners, throwing out 11 of the 21 runners trying to steal. He finished with a .979 fielding percentage.
This past year, Emsley-Pai hit .360 against right-handed pitchers and .290 against left-handers. He also hit .379 with runners on and hit .400 leading off an inning.
Knigge is the son of former Warrior Kent Knigge and was raised in Filer in southern Idaho before the family moved to Lewiston prior to his senior year in high school.
During his freshman season, Knigge appeared in eight games and threw 23 innings. He posted a 3-0 record with a 3.13 earned run average and two saves. He struck out 25 and held opponents to a .244 batting average. Last season he appeared in 13 games and was third on the team with eight starts, including the team’s third game of the Avista NAIA World Series. He threw 42.1 innings and struck out 43 with 18 walks. He finished with a 3-4 record and a 6.59 ERA.
This season, Knigge was automatic. He posted a 9-0 record with a 2.59 ERA. He led the team in wins and strikeouts (66), and was second in innings pitched (44.2). He allowed 16 walks and opponents hit only .218 against him.
Knigge was named to the NAIA Baseball All-America Second Team and was a first-team all-region selection with Emsley-Pai.
Ashenbrenner played shortstop, third base, and second base this season and throughout his career at LCSC. He is listed as a second baseman in the draft, but earned First Team all-NAIA Gold Glove honors this season at third base. During the Avista NAIA World Series last week, Ashenbrenner played shortstop.
Ashenbrenner, who transferred to LCSC from Washington State after his freshman season, committed only two errors during the first three months of this season and finished with a .958 fielding percentage and a team-high 124 assists.
During his sophomore season, he started 58 games, most of them at second base, and hit .357 with 13 doubles and four stolen bases. As a junior, he earned First Team all-Region honors and hit .435, best among the regulars, and tied for second in RBI with 44. He also tied for second in doubles with 11 and fifth in home runs with five.
This season, he hit .343 in 48 games with 15 doubles and 10 home runs, which tied for second on the team. He also tied for second in RBI with 51 and had a slugging percentage of .596.
The Kirkland, Wash., product also hit .343 during the season while playing in 48 games, including starting in 45.
Muecklisch was sidelined by injuries throughout his two years at LCSC, but certainly was stellar in his time on the field. As a junior he missed nearly two-thirds of the season with a hip flexor and other injuries. He came back in time to be the club’s starting shortstop at the Avista NAIA World Series where he earned the tournament’s Golden Glove Award for his outstanding defensive play. Despite playing in only 20 of 55 games last season, he still led the team with a .438 batting average.
This season, he played in 16 games and started 15 and hit .327 with three doubles, two triples and four home runs. He had a slugging percentage of .673. and was 3-of-4 in stole bases.
Muecklisch again missed nearly two months prior to the start of the World Series, but came back to be the team’s starting left fielder, the first time he played the position this year. In his first game at the Series, he went 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored.
Burke spent one year in the program after earning First Team NAIA All-America honors as a catcher at Kansas Wesleyan University. He played some catcher and first base for the Warriors this season, but his main position was third base.
Burke finished the season with a .378 average, which was second on the team. He earned first team all-region honors and was an honorable mention All-America selection.
Burke led the Warriors in home runs with 16 and RBI with 64. He also had 19 doubles, which was second on the team and had 51 runs scored. He started 48 and appeared in 52 of the team’s 53 games, both team highs, and had a .711 slugging percentage and a .427 on-base percentage. He hit .407 with runners on base and was 6-of-11 with the bases loaded this season.
LCSC has not had five players selected in the draft or the first 30 rounds since 2007, when eight players were selected in the first 22 rounds. The eight players selected that year also is the most LCSC has had selected in a single draft.