June 6, 2008
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Navy baseball right-handed pitchers Mitch Harris (Mt. Holly, N.C.) and Oliver Drake (Gardner, Mass.) were taken in the 13th and 43rd rounds, respectively, in the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft on Friday afternoon. The St. Louis Cardinals selected Harris with the 395th overall pick and the Baltimore Orioles claimed Drake with the 1,286th selection.
Harris becomes the second-highest draft pick in program history, as Matt Foster was taken with the 380th overall pick in the 13th round of the 2003 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Harris is the first player in program history to be drafted twice in his career, as the Atlanta Braves selected the Navy right-hander in the 24th round during last year's draft.
The recent Navy graduate topped the list of six draft picks from the Patriot League. Harris was followed by Bucknell's pitcher/outfielder Jason Buursma (25th round, St. Louis), Army's pitcher Drew Clothier (37th round, Florida), catcher Chris Simmons (41st round, Pittsburgh) and pitcher/outfielder Cole White (42nd round, Pittsburgh) and his former teammate Drake.
"We are really happy for Mitch getting drafted by St. Louis in the 13th round," stated Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "Mitch's impact on the program really speaks for itself and has helped move us in a positive direction. This tops of an incredible career here at the Naval Academy, where he was a two-time All-American, appeared on several national award watch lists, won the Thompson Trophy and earned numerous additional honors."
Harris completed his four-year career at Navy as one of the best pitchers in the program's storied 113-year history. The Navy right-hander struck out 11.78 batters per nine innings over his career - the highest mark in school history - en route to a 20-13 record and a miniscule 2.51 ERA over 222.1 innings. Harris fanned more batters than innings pitched over each of his four seasons to rack up 291 strikeouts - the second-highest total in school history.
In Kostacopoulos's first year at Navy in 2006, Harris emerged with a breakout campaign in a starting role after spending his freshman season primarily as a closer. He won his first-seven starts of the year before finishing his sophomore campaign with a 10-3 record and an impressive 1.74 ERA over 82.2 innings with 113 strikeouts. One season later, the hard-throwing right-hander went 8-5 with a 2.14 ERA in 88.1 innings with a Patriot League-record 119 strikeouts. This season, Harris bounced back from an injury to go 2-2 with a 3.50 ERA over seven starts, one of which a complete-game shutout at league-champion Bucknell.
In addition to his exploits on the mound, Harris also provided a big contribution with the bat for the Midshipmen. Over his career, he hit .295 (175-for-593) with 16 home runs - the fourth-best mark in school history - and 112 RBIs. Harris became the first player in program history to belt a home run in back-to-back-to-back games twice in his career, as he performed the feat on March 13-15, 2008, and March 31-April 1, 2007. Amidst his home run tear in 2008, he smacked a pair of long balls against Monmouth to become the first Navy hitter in nearly a decade to go deep twice in the same game in the cavernous confines of Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium.
Drake, a 21-year old right-hander, produced some of the best performances of his career during the latter portion of his sophomore season in 2008 to finish the year with a 6-3 record and a 3.70 ERA with a league-best 78 strikeouts over 80.1 innings. Over his last-four starts, he went 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA over 27.2 innings with only one walk and 34 strikeouts. During that span, he was named to the Patriot League All-Tournament Team and recognized as the ECAC and Patriot League Pitcher of the Week.
Over his career, Drake owns a 9-6 record with a 3.48 ERA over 147.1 innings with 43 walks and 130 strikeouts. His 7.94 strikeouts per nine innings mark ranks as the eighth-highest average in school history. He has also limited opposing hitters to a .254 (142-for-560) batting average.
Drake becomes the fourth Navy player drafted in program history, joining Harris, Foster and Jonathan Johnston (42nd round by Oakland Athletics in 2007) on the elite list. In addition, this year's selections represent the second-straight year that two Midshipmen have been picked in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.