Tuesday, June 14, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Blue Jays draft second local kid

Leader sports editor

The Toronto Blue Jays now have two local pitching prospects in their organization. A year after Beebe’s Griffin Glaude was made an undrafted signee of the Blue Jays, 2012 Sylvan Hills graduate Connor Eller was taken in the 22nd round of the 2016 MLB draft.

Eller reported to the Blue Jays’ instructional league in Florida on Monday.

Glaude made a huge jump through the ranks last year when he was promoted from the Gulf Coast Rookie league to the Dunedin Blue Jays, a Single A-Advanced team. Glaude dominated the NAIA as a pitcher for Lyon College, and continued to dominate in Rookie League level minors. The promotion to Dunedin skipped two levels on the minor league rungs, but he only saw two innings of work with the club.

He was assigned to the Blue Jays’ Single A-Short Season team in Vancouver last week. Their season is set to begin on Friday.

Glaude, a 5-foot-9 right-handed relief pitcher, carries a cumulative minor league ERA of 2.64 into his second season of professional baseball. He has made 17 appearances, thrown 30.2 innings with 40 strikeouts and eight walks.

Glaude was ecstatic about the leapfrog promotion last year, and is taking the assignment this year in stride.

“Of course, any time you move up in the system it’s exciting,” said Glaude. “The ultimate goal is to keep rising, though. It’s been a great experience all around to be able to play against great players from around the world.”

Eller, a right-handed pitcher who recently graduated from Ouachita Baptist University, dominated on the mound the last two years for the Tigers.

He had few college offers out of high school, and signed with Crowder Community College in Neosho, Mo., before going to OBU.

He’s now 6-2, 195 and was recently named to the All-Great American Conference First Team after a stellar senior season on the mound. One of his biggest strengths is endurance. He threw 95.1 innings this spring, including a 10-inning outing that ended with a 2-1 win over Oklahoma Baptist. He had a 3.40 ERA with 90 strikeouts.

His junior year, his first at OBU, was even better. Eller had a 9-2 record with a 2.58 ERA in 93 IP, with 72 strikeouts and 20 walks. He was named the GAC Pitcher of the Year.

Also pitching in the minors from Sylvan Hills is Ashur Tolliver and D.J. Baxendale. Tolliver had a brief stint in the Major Leagues with Baltimore at the end of May. Since being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, he has made three relief appearances with 0.00 ERA.

Baxendale is a starter for Double-A Chattanooga. He is 6-6 this season with a 3.23 ERA.