Three former Cougars from the College of the Canyons baseball program’s 2017 Western State Conference, East Division championship team were selected during the 2019 Major League Baseball first-year player draft on Thursday.
The former Cougars were catcher Anthony Lepre, outfielder Cole Kleszcz and right-handed pitcher Chase Wheatcroft.
Lepre, who recently concluded his collegiate career at The Master’s University, was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 28th round (846th selection).
During his sophomore season at COC Lepre, who attended Valencia High School, launched 15 home runs to tie for second in the state. He was named a California Community College Baseball Coaches Association Southern California All-State team honoree and an American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings Pacific Association Division Southern California All-Region First Team selection.
As a senior this season at TMU, Lepre slugged 28 home runs and set a new single-season hits record.
Kleszcz was chosen by the New York Mets in the 33rd round (988th selection), marking the second time the slugger has been drafted in his young career.
The Valencia High School grad was also taken in the 40th round by the Cleveland Indians in 2017.
Kleszcz had a spectacular freshman season for the Cougars that same year, finishing with a state-best 18 home runs, while also leading the Cougars with a .410 batting average, 60 runs, 46 RBIs and .495 on-base percentage.
He brought home the WSC Player of the Year award and was named to the 2017 ABCA/Rawlings PAD All-American First Team; the ABCA/PAD Southern California All-Region First Team; and the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association (CCCBCA) Southern California All-State Team. He was also named the CCCBCA Southern California ‘Big Stick’ Award winner as the top offensive player in the region.
While playing at Azusa Pacific University in 2019, Kleszcz batted .374 and led the team with 27 home runs to set a new PacWest conference single-season record. He was recently named the NCAA Division II West Region Player of the Year.
Wheatcroft heard his name called by the Oakland Athletics in the 37th round (1,124th selection).
The six-foot-six-inch right-hander out of Saugus High School was an All-WSC Second-Team honoree for the Cougars in 2017 after compiling an 8-2 record and 3.86 ERA to go with 48 strikeouts.
Wheatcroft later transferred to CSU, Stanislaus where he posted a 2.64 ERA across two seasons pitching both out of the bullpen and as a starter. He was a 2019 All-CCCAA First-Team choice for the Warriors after logging 75 and 2/3 innings and fanning 55 batters.
Lepre, Kleszcz and Wheatcroft join former Cougar left-handed pitcher Jacob Lopez as players from COC’s 2017 squad who were later selected in the MLB first-year player draft.
Lopez, who was a freshman on the 2017 conference championship team, was taken by the San Francisco Giants in the 26th round (766th pick) of the 2018 draft.
Stay up to date on all this season’s action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
— By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director