Rebel Trio Taken In MLB Draft|
June 14, 2017
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - The UNLV baseball program had three of its own selected on the third and final day of the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Draft Wednesday. The Oakland Athletics chose junior Payton Squier and senior Justin Jones in the 16th and 34th rounds, respectively; while the Arizona Diamondbacks took redshirt sophomore Ernie De La Trinidad in the 19th round.
Dating back to 2013, the Scarlet & Gray has had at least three student-athletes drafted by MLB teams, and this current five-year period is the longest such stretch in program history. Prior to this year's draft, the program had notched two four-year runs: 1996-99 and 2007-10.
"I'm happy for all three of these guys," said head coach Stan Stolte. "They all worked so hard to improve their draft stock, and they got rewarded. Ernie and Payton have something to fall back on (returning to UNLV) if they don't get what they want, but we will support them 100 percent in whichever direction they go. Justin had such a great year offensively that we were hoping he'd get selected. It's a crazy business and I'm glad to see things work out for him."
The trio tied for the team lead in hits with 73 apiece and, in doing so, claimed the squad's top three batting averages. De La Trinidad led everyone with his .361 average, while Jones and Squier were right behind at .360 and .329, respectively. In all, the three combined to lead UNLV in 10 different offensive categories.
Squier hit at a .329 clip this past year in 56 games, 55 of which were starts. The Phoenix native reached base safely in 50 games with the help of at least one hit in 43 of those and a walk in eight more. He began the campaign with a 27-game reached-base streak, which included a season-high 17-game hitting streak that produced a .348 batting average (24-for-69). He had 12 extra-base hits (nine doubles and three home runs) to go along with 20 multiple-hit games, which included three four-hit and four three-hit affairs. He scored 35 runs and knocked in 33 RBI that helped produce five multiple-run and six multiple-RBI contests.
For his career, Squier was a 2016 First Team Mountain West All-Conference honoree who has played in 167 games with 164 starts at a multitude of positions (second base, third base, left field and catcher). He has posted a .330 batting average with 218 hits (24 doubles, four home runs and three triples), 106 runs and 88 RBI.
Coincidentally, this is the second instance that Oakland has drafted Squier. The Athletics chose him in the 39th round during the 2014 MLB Draft.
De La Trinidad, also from Phoenix, came to UNLV after two years at Central Arizona College where he was a 2016 NJCCA Division II All-American as well as a First Team All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference selection.
In 2017, De La Trinidad was tabbed to the All-MW Second Team after he led the team in triples (five), hit-by-pitch (19), on-base percentage (.465) and stolen bases (12). He tied for the team lead in multiple-hit games with 22, nine of which were three-hit outings. He scored 39 runs with nine multiple-run games and plated 30 RBI with six multiple-RBI games.
Additionally, De La Trinidad owned one of the longest reached-base streaks in the country at 43 games; 35 of which came from hits, while the rest were due to walks and/or hit-by-pitch. During that stretch, he had a 16-game hitting streak that resulted in a .422 batting average (27-for-64) and nine multiple-hit games.
Jones, a two-time All-MW Second Team performer (2014 and 2017), led the team in doubles (16), RBI (50), total bases (120) and slugging percentage (.591), while sharing the top spot in multiple-hit games (22), which featured three four-hit and five three-hit games. His slugging percentage was backed by 27 extra-base hits: 16 doubles, nine home runs and two triples. He was second on the team in multiple-RBI games with 11, and that included an eight-RBI outing in the first game of the season -- a 20-3 win over Omaha on February 17. He also notched three four-RBI games.
The Henderson product began his career at UNLV in 2013 and saw it culminate with a .286 average in 230 games (221 starts). He finished with 244 hits with 72 going for extra bases (45 doubles, 17 home runs and 10 triples. He also produced 154 RBI and scored 130 runs.
UNLV also had one member of its recruiting class selected during the draft, as infielder Jacob Rogers from Liberty High School was taken by the Los Angeles Angels in the 38th round (1,135th overall).