MLB Draft offers Gaffney an interesting decision | June 8, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - June 8, 2012

MLB Draft offers Gaffney an interesting decision

by Rick Eymer

Outfielder Tyler Gaffney faces an interesting decision over the next couple of months -- sign a professional baseball contract or return to Stanford to play football in the fall.

There's really no wrong decision, as Gaffney became the seventh Cardinal drafted in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft, going to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 24th round on Wednesday. He was preceeded by catcher Eric Smith, who was picked by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 18th round.

Mark Appel, the Pirates' first-round pick, and Stephen Piscotty, who went to the St. Louis Cardinals, were chosen on Monday, the first day of the draft.

Brett Mooneyham (third round, Washington Nationals), Kenny Diekroeger (fourth round, Kansas City Royals) and Jake Stewart (ninth round, Detroit Tigers) were drafted Tuesday.

Smith and Gaffney learned of their draft status on a stop-over in Amarillo, Texas, as the Cardinal headed for its Super Regional series with Florida State. Smith grew lose to Dodger Stadium. Gaffney, who could make himself part of a package deal with Appel, was raised in San Diego.

Smith, in his first year as a starting catcher, leads the Cardinal in hitting at .330. A converted infielder, Smith started 48 games behind the plate. He joins the likes of former Cardinal catchers Donny Lucy, A.J. Hinch, Ryan Garko, Jason Castro and John Hester who have been drafted over the past 20 years.

Gaffney, who scored seven of his 12 career touchdowns last year for the Fiesta Bowl-bound Cardinal at running back, is a career .300 hitter in 159 games with 132 runs and 76 RBI. He was a two-time honorable mention pick the past two years, batting .326 heading into the year. He is hitting .240 with 48 runs in 2012.

In related news, Stanford third baseman Alex Blandino was named a freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball on Wednesday.

The Palo Alto native, who did not start for the team until after the finals break in late March, enters the Super Regional at Florida State with a .295 average in 41 games this season.

Blandino has nine doubles, one triple and eight home runs for a team-best .534 slugging percentage. He ranks fourth on the team in RBI.

Appel, meanwhile, was named one of three finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, given to college baseball's top player. He is the 11th Stanford player to be a finalist for the award and first since current San Diego Padre Carlos Quentin in 2003.

Appel is 10-1 with a 2.27 ERA over 15 starts this year. He led the Pac-12 with 127 strikeouts over 119.0 innings this season. He has struck out 10 or more in eight starts, including four times against top-10 opponents.


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