PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The Frontier League Tryout and Draft took place earlier this week at the home of the Joliet Slammers, Slammers Stadium in Joliet, Illinois. The tryout featured over 300 players competing over the course of two days to earn a spot with one of the Frontier League’s teams. Managers and coaches from each Frontier League organization were on hand as they evaluated players speed, defense, hitting, and pitching ability on day one before inviting selected players back to participate in a simulated game on day two.
27 players in all were selected by Frontier League teams, led by top overall pick RHP Reign Letkeman. Among the selections were 6 California Winter League alumni. The first round saw former CWL pitcher Joe Dougherty get selected by the Schaumburg Boomers 4th overall. Dougherty participated in the 2018 California Winter League where he was signed by Chris Newell of the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers of the United Shore Professional Baseball League. Dougherty opened some eyes after he touched 93 MPH on the radar gun, making quick work of the hitters he faced on day two. Next was second baseman Carson Lee, who was selected two picks later at 6th overall by the Florence Freedom. Freedom manager Dennis Pelfrey saw Lee at the CWL in 2018 and decided that he showed enough at the Frontier League tryout to warrant the high pick after showing improvement. 2019 CWL Alum catcher Jonah Dean-Hargroves was selected in the second round, 13th overall by the Southern Illinois Miners. Dean-Hargroves showed one of the stronger arms at the Frontier League tryout and was familiar with Miners’ Director of Scouting Casey Dill from the CWL. Dill knew of the Miners’ need for a solid defensive catcher and knew exactly who he would recommend for the Miners after evaluating Dean-Hargroves in Joliet. The draft would conclude with 3 more CWL Alum being selected in the third and final round. 2019 CWL outfielder Bodie Bryan was selected by the Lake Erie Crushers 20th overall. Crushers Manager Cam Roth managed against Bryan in the 2019 CWL and was familiar with his versatility. Bryan joined the CWL after his collegiate career concluded in 2018 at West Texas A&M and will look to bring his high-energy style of play to Lake Erie. RHP Tyler Sharp, a CWL player from 2018, was the next CWL alum off the board at 24th overall to the River City Rascals. Sharp signed with the Napa Silverados of the Pacific Association in 2018 and showed good command over the course of the Frontier League tryout. His experience and command made the selection an easy one for River City Manager Steve Brook. Rounding out the CWL Alumni selections was shortstop Jake Willsey, who was signed by the Southern Illinois Miners following the 2018 CWL season. Despite battling injuries in 2018, Willsey came in to the tryout and draft as a fairly well known commodity thanks to his scrappiness, hitting, passion for the game, and time at the CWL and in the Frontier League.
“We always tell players that just because they do not get signed at first, it isn’t the end of their playing career. These draft picks are a good indication of such, as teams who did not have a need earlier now do. The CWL players have the benefit of four weeks of prior exposure to our managers and coaches, so when the need does arise they are a known commodity and are therefore more attractive to fill that role,” said Frontier League Deputy Commissioner Steve Tahsler when discussing the draft.
All players selected in the Frontier League draft will report to spring training where they will look to solidify a spot on their team’s opening night roster. The Frontier League begins their 2019 regular season on May 9th. The 2020 CWL Season will see players report to Palm Springs, CA on January 20th. Players can learn more about the California Winter League and register for 2020 by visiting www.californiawinterleague.com.