The San Diego Padres apparently like what they see in the mountains. Not the ones nearby in California, but the ones more than 2,400 miles away.
The major league club reached out to West Virginia not once, but twice on Monday, selecting left-handed pitcher Jackson Wolf in the fourth round, then following that up two rounds later with a pick of right-hander Ryan Bergert.
The pick of Wolf, who was the 129th player selected overall, was a predictable outcome. A long, lanky lefty, Wolf checked all the boxes for those looking at potential major league talent, and he backed that up during a four-year career that included 205 strikeouts in 208.2 innings of work. Over his last two seasons, he allowed just 80 hits and 33 earned runs, posting a WHIP of 1.07. Opposing batters hit just .169 against the six-foot, seven-inch fastballer over the same span.
“At 6-foot-7, Wolf’s biggest asset on the mound might be his imposing presence,” Padres staff writer AJ Cassavell wrote of the pick. “There’s a chance his stuff plays up in the bullpen, as he owns a low-90s fastball, to go along with a slider and a changeup.”
Bergert was expected to be a weekend starter for the Mountaineers this year, but was ruled out for the entire 2021 campaign after undergoing arm surgery over the winter. Still, the Padres saw enough from him in his 21 appearances for WVU in 2019 and 2020, in which he struck out 68 batters against only 19 walks. He was even a bit more stingy than Wolf, allowing an opposing batting average of .158 while posting a WHIP of 0.96.
“It’s hard to know what to make of Bergert from his time at West Virginia, considering he missed the 2021 season due to injury and made only four starts before the pandemic shut down his ’20 campaign,” Cassavell noted. “But in ’19, Bergert posted a 1.85 ERA in 17 games. His fastball gets up to the mid-90s, and it has life.”
While both are eligible to return for another season, their lofty draft positions almost certainly mean they will be moving on to begin their professional careers.
The MLB Draft concludes on Tuesday with Rounds 11-20. Outfielder Austin Davis, infielder Tyler Doanes, catcher Paul McIntosh and pitcher Madison Jeffrey are among the Mountaineers hopeful of hearing their names called.