Locals get their names called during MLB Draft

Recent Calvary Christian graduate Christian Cairo was the Tampa Bay area’s highest selection in this year’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. The Cleveland Indians took the shortstop in the fourth round, No. 130 overall.

It’s been a phenomenal few weeks for the Calvary Christian baseball program.

The Warriors played in their third straight Florida High School Athletic Association Class 4A state title game on May 25 and their 2-1 victory over Delray Beach American Heritage brought the second championship in that span.

A couple weeks later, from June 3-5, two of this year’s seniors were selected during the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Shortstop Christian Cairo, son of Miguel, a 17-year MLB veteran, became the highest of those selected when the Cleveland Indians took him in the fourth round as the 130th overall pick. Cairo had been set to attend LSU, but the high selection combined with a signing bonus reported to be a little shy of $1 million proved difficult to pass up.

Cairo, the Warriors’ leadoff hitter, posted his most impressive year at the plate in a Calvary Christian uniform. He led the team in batting average (.451), on-base percentage (.612) and slugging percentage (.743). He scored a team-high 43 runs while driving in 24 and slugging four home runs.

“What happened this year, Christian Cairo, Josh Emerson and Nolan Hudi were our captains, and those guys were outstanding leaders,” Calvary coach Greg Olsen said during a post-championship interview. “They’re people that I trust in general. I look to them for the pulse of the team so to speak. Their leadership was important all year and something that us as a coaching staff leaned on.”

Joining Cairo as a 2019 MLB Draft pick was right-handed pitcher Braden Halladay, son of the late Roy Halladay. The elder Halladay earned two Cy Young Awards during his 16-year MLB career and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer.

Roy Halladay was drafted out of Arvada West (Colo.) High School in the first round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1995. The same organization made Braden Halladay the 957th overall selection by taking him in Round No. 32 – the same number worn by his father for the majority of his 12 years in Toronto.

“Thank you @BlueJays for drafting me in the 32nd round today!” Braden Halladay tweeted on June 5. “It’s a great honor! It’s with mutual understanding that I’ll be honoring my commitment to Penn State!”

Halladay went 3-1 this season and struck out 37 batters over 31 innings pitched this season.

Pinellas County produced three high school draft picks during this year’s draft. Along with Calvary’s pair of selections, the New York Yankees took Lakewood’s Dontae Mitchell, a USF commit, in the 38th round.

Also selected last week was a pair of North Pinellas high school graduates who spent the past four to five years at college.

Former East Lake pitcher Brad Deppermann joined Cairo by being selected in first 10 rounds. The Chicago Cubs, the same organization that selected him out of high school in 2014, took Deppermann in the seventh round, No. 222 overall.

The right-hander spent the past five years attending the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. After recovering from elbow reconstruction surgery early in his college career, Deppermann became one of the Ospreys’ top arms. In 2019, Deppermann was named the Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year after going 6-5 in 15 starts with a 2.46 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 95 innings.

Speaking of strikeouts, Deppermann spent his 2017 summer in the Midwest playing in the Prospect League for the Lafayette (Ind.) Aviators. He became the league’s all-time, single-season strikeout leader by fanning 108 batters in just 59 2/3 innings.

Another drafted North Pinellas alum was former Dunedin High infielder Trevor Jensen, who was taken in the 24th round, No. 719 overall, by the Minnesota Twins. After attending St. Petersburg College for two years following high school, Jensen’s spent the past two seasons playing first base at Tulane University. Jensen batted .327 this past year, driving in 39 runs and homering seven times.

“Excited for this next chapter of my life,” Jensen wrote on Twitter June 5. “Thank you @Twins and @GreenWaveBSB for giving me the opportunity to continue to play the game that I love.”