Ben Rortvedt

Ben Rortvedt

AMBER ARNOLD - State Journal

The Minnesota Twins are stocking up on catchers with Wisconsin ties in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

The Twins selected Michigan State junior and former Lodi athlete Matt Byars in the 24th round on Saturday, two days after drafting Verona senior catcher Ben Rortvedt in the second round.

While Rortvedt was pegged as the top offensive catcher among high school prospects this year, Byars is best known for his defense. He was named Michigan State’s Defensive Player of the Year and caught all but two games for a pitching staff that was among the NCAA’s ERA leaders all season.

Byars, a member of Lodi’s WIAA Division 2 state championship team as a senior in 2013, batted .284 with 16 doubles and four home runs in his first season at Michigan State. He spent two years at Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois.

UW-La Crosse senior outfielder Taylor Kohlwey was selected in the 21st round by the San Diego Padres.

The Holmen native was named D3baseball.com Player of the Year after finishing second nationally with a .485 batting average and leading NCAA Division III in hits, runs and total bases. His 51-game hitting streak was the second longest in Division III history.

The Chicago Cubs took UW-Whitewater’s Austin Jones (Wauwatosa West) in the 26th round. The right-hander was 0-1 with a 4.97 ERA in 10 appearances as a junior.

Two former major league stars had sons drafted Saturday.

Notre Dame outfielder Torii Hunter Jr. was taken in the 23rd round by the Los Angeles Angels — one of his father’s former teams.

Trey Griffey, the son of Hall of Fame outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., was taken by the Seattle Mariners in the 24th round. It appears the Mariners were just paying homage to their former star. The younger Griffey is a wide receiver at the Arizona and hasn’t played baseball since before high school.

 

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