The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is another opportunity for baseball players to continue to play while hoping to get that taste of big league action. There are always a handful, averaging around 20-30 guys drafted or signed each year out of the NAIA. With help from NAIA Ball on Twitter and a HUGE help from Robby Gutierrez, we’ve compiled the top draft picks and players to watch out for during the June 4th MLB Draft. For our most recent mlb mock draft (click here) or view our NAIA Baseball home page!
Note: Robby Gutierrez was the joint author on this article. (He is a Legend.)
Elih Marrero – St. Thomas University – Catcher
Marrero is part of a talented tandem of SEC Baseball transfer catchers for St. Thomas. Marrero is considered as a high baseball IQ behind the plate with a strong arm and great ability to work the game. His father is a former big leaguer, Eli Marrero, who spent 10 seasons between the Cardinals, Braves, Royals, Orioles, Rockies, and Mets. Elih, in his first season for the bobcats, hit .370 with 91 hits, 24 doubles, 9 HR, and led his team with 80 RBI. In 2015, Marrero was selected in the 29th round by the Reds out of Mississippi State.
Lane Milligan – Oklahoma City University – Catcher
Lane Milligan has put up video game numbers this season for OCU. Milligan, in 58 games, has hit .457 with 100 hits, 15 triples (NAIA Record), 15 HR, and national NAIA leader in RBI with 90. Milligan has done it all this season for the Stars. As several opposing coaches from the Sooner Athletic Conference have spoke about, Milligan can use the whole yard while hitting. He can play multiple positions, has good speed, and a plus baseball IQ. Milligan has been the best overall hitter this season for an OCU team that’s no stranger to having players go pro, along with a long-time head coach in Denney Crabaugh. Lane Milligan was described to me as the best draft prospect the NAIA had. There aren’t many left handed hitting catchers with speed in the nation, that can also play multiple positions.
Eddie Jimenez – Southeastern University – RHP
Jimenez is the hardest thrower in the NAIA. Jimenez had a spot rare start: the NAIA championship game. It didn’t faze him as after giving up a run in the bottom of the first, scattered five hits over 5.1 innings with seven strike outs to earn the win. The RHP out of Oklahoma was up to 99 mph on scout day for Southeastern. Despite only throwing 21.2 innings this season, Jimenez only allowed 12 hits, 2 earned runs, and struck out 31 batters. Jimenez had four saves for the Fire this season and posted an ERA of 0.84. Everywhere Jimenez goes radar guns go up. Because of his plus velocity, control, and ability to make batters miss, Eddie Jimenez will find himself drafted likely on day three.
At the beginning of this season, Robby was told by a coach to watch out for Malone, and he would be the best all-around hitter in the nation. This season Malone hit .360 with 16 HR and 58 RBI, hitting in the heart of a prolific offense. Malone has power to all fields and has been gap to gap with 16 doubles this season.
Angel Reyes – University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma – RHP
Reyes came to USAO from Western Oklahoma State, a program known for producing some great talents like Andrelton Simmons, who starred there at short and on the mound. Reyes is a pitcher who sits 92-95 mph but has hit 96 several times. Despite the plus fastball, Reyes also features a hard slider for the Drovers. In 28 appearances this season, Reyes had a 3.07 ERA, 4-1 record, 11 saves, 44 innings, 11 walks, 58 Ks. Reyes is an all-conference reliever for the Sooner Athletic, he’s described as very athletic from opposing coaches. That ability to have plus velocity will get Reyes taken in the upcoming MLB draft.
Gage Burland – RHP – Lewis-Clark State ID
Burland is a two time draftee already, touching 98 on the radar multiple times. Health has been his biggest challenge and has stayed healthy in the 30 innings as a reliever this year. He’s pitched to a 2.40 ERA with 39 strikeouts.
Mitch McIntyre – RHP – Tabor (Kan.) College
McIntyre is a past Tommy John patient and still throws in the low 90’s. He’s a transfer from Indiana State and pitched to a 9-2 record with 77 innings pitched, putting up a 3.82 ERA and 78 Ks.
Renny Tolentino – RHP – LSU-Shreveport
Tolentino followed up an impressive 2017 campaign with a stellar 2018. Renny went 11-3, 93 innings, 2.89 ERA, and an amazing 126 strikeouts. He’s a fastball/slider combo, sits in the low 90’s.
Chris Acosta-Tapia – OF – Oklahoma Wesleyan
Tapia was the 2017 NAIA National Player of the Year and a preseason draft pick. He had an amazing year with 24 Home Runs and a .441 average in 2017. Tapia’s 2018 hasn’t been as kind, batting .310 with only 10 home runs in 174 at bats. He has struck out at a higher pace as well. Known as a solid hitter, he could offer some upside to a Major League team.
Elliott Cary – OF – Oklahoma City
Cary is the son of former big leaguer Chuck Cary and a 34th round draft pick out of high school with the Nationals. He went to Oregon State for two years before arriving at Oklahoma City batting .300 with nine homers and 32 runs batted in. Cary is an intriguing draft pick for this year’s draft.
Reese Cooley – Faulkner University
Reese Cooley has it all! Speed, can hit for average, plus defense, and hit for power. Cooley, known for what his coaches say is “aggressive swagger” hit .385 with 15 HR and 51 RBI. Cooley’s ability to be an above average defender with a solid arm plus incredible bat speed set him above many players across the nation.
Ryan Rosa – Faulkner University
Rosa is described as “tough” by a coach on the Faulkner University staff. He’s a player with an extremely high baseball IQ and has the ability to succeed at any position he stands in. For the Eagles this year, Rosa hit .443 with a team leading 77 hits while rounding in 47 RBI. Rosa’s combo as a solid player with a high baseball IQ will make him attractive to teams in the MLB Draft.
Kiki Menendez – Texas Wesleyan
The NAIA homerun leader has turned a lot of heads this season. Menendez put up video game numbers this year with a .466 average, 89 hits, 26 HR, and 84 RBI. Menendez has plus power and can hit for average, but he also has exceptional bat speed. His coach described him as someone who works hard every day whether it’s practice or a game. Menendez has extreme offensive ability and has given him a shot at the next level.
Cole Uvila – Georgia Gwinnett
The Georgia State transfer has drawn a lot of attention from major league teams this season. Uvila was the Friday night starter at Georgia State where he posted a stellar sub 1.00 ERA in the early season before undergoing Tommy John surgery. This year for the Grizzlies Uvila has an ERA of 4.75 in 55 innings with 27 walks and 80 strikeouts. Uvila has plus velocity that sits in the low to mid 90’s, and has even been clocked at 96 recently. Coming off an injury, and still showing promising velocity, will get Cole Uvila taken in the upcoming MLB draft.
Augie Isaacson led the Falcons in every offensive category this season. He was the team leader in: average, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI’s, and stolen bases. It’s apparent that Isaacson is special, he was a huge catalyst to the Falcons 33-19 season. He’s labeled as dynamic by his coaches, a game changer on offense and defense. It’s rare to find a player that dynamic on any team around the nation, who can lead a team in every category. Because Isaacson has shown that ability to be so dynamic, there will be a team this season calling his name in the draft.
Raudy Martinez – University of Cumberlands
6’4” 220 lbs r/r OF. 6.6 runner. 92-94 arm from OF. Plus bat speed. Everyone is intrigued because of tools. Hit .342 with 16 hr and 69 rbi and stole 19 bases. Polk state transfer. On draft board last year so teams have been following him.