Many of the Mountain West's top prospects are still waiting to receive a phone call heading into the last day of the MLB Draft, but a pair of under-the-radar performers became tenth-round selections on Tuesday afternoon.
With the 286th pick, the Arizona Diamondbacks tapped UNLV junior Joey Armstrong, their first outfield selection after an early draft heavy on right-handed pitching. Though he has the option of returning to school, the message seems clear that he is eager to move onto the next level after telling UNLVRebels.com that "it feels great to be drafted... I am really excited to get my professional career going."
Armstrong hit just .277/.387/.357 for the Rebels in 2015, though his career numbers are much more encouraging: .301/.393/.391 across three seasons in the starting lineup at Las Vegas, along with 25 steals in 34 attempts. Beyond that, however, he gets high marks for his defense, having led the MWC with eight outfield assists this season, and that is likely to be his calling card as he begins his trek through the minor leagues.
Later in the 10th round, the Oakland Athletics went back to the San Diego State well after drafting Bubba Derby, selecting Steven Pallares with the 308th pick. Pallares, a senior, was listed as a first baseman/outfielder by Baseball America, the 86th-best prospect in the state, though it's tempting to argue the A's were intrigued by his overall utility to the Aztecs. He spent time at first base, third base, right field, designated hitter, and on the mound during his time at SDSU, helping the Aztecs at a .352/.447/.523 clip.
Pallares led the Mountain West in hits, was second in runs scored, fifth in total bases and eighth in runs batted in. However, he may have helped himself stand out the most when he stymied UC Santa Barbara's Dillon Tate, the 4th overall pick by the Texas Rangers, by reaching base four times, hitting a homer and stealing three bases, including home for the game-winning run in the Lake Elsinore NCAA Regional against the Gauchos.