Tinlin among local players who could be drafted
Scouts are calling it a lean year for Northern Nevada baseball.
When the Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft commences this week, only a small handful of players who competed in the region this spring have been told to keep an eye on the phone during the first day.
Among the local highlights are Western Nevada¹s Brian Barnett, who has impressed with his bat this season, and University of Nevada catcher Travis Simas, who could get a call based on his defensive reputation.
A couple of others, Douglas¹ Tyler May, South Tahoe High grad Dan Tinlin who now pitches for Nevada, and Dayton grad Matt Bowman who just finished his career at Nevada, could be in line for late-round calls, but on the whole it could end up being a light year locally in the draft.
Tinlin’s draft status, however, became more uncertain last month when he injured his elbow in a late-season game for the Pack. The relief specialist is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery and seek a medical redshirt so he can use next season to recover.
Tinlin led the Pack with a 3.62 earned run average while posting a 4-2 record. The junior, who had four saves, was selected as an all-Western Athletic Conference second-team reliever.
Perhaps the strongest prospect with any local ties is a right-handed pitcher who hasn¹t played in the state since 2005. Chris Balcom-Miller, who pitched and played third base for Douglas High as a sophomore in 2005 before moving to California, was drafted in the 35th round by the Kansas City Royals last year with the 1,045th pick of the draft. This came after he threw only 28 innings for West Valley College during the
season. He stayed on at West Valley this season and wound up with first-team All-Northern California and Coast Golden Gate Conference Pitcher of the Year honors after striking out 106 batters in 83 innings pitched.
“That¹s the gamble I took,” Balcom-Miller said. “I¹m not a great school person, so I was wondering if I should just sign last year. It was a good gamble, though. I¹m glad I stuck it out.”
Scouts are saying he is a solid third- through 10th-round pick.
“I¹ve heard mostly between the third and the sixth rounds,” Balcom-Miller said. “It¹s been crazy. I was the every-day shortstop at West Valley last year and I didn¹t pitch that much. I started getting a lot of calls for pitching, so I focused on that coming into this year. I was fortunate enough to have a good year on the mound.”
His fastball rose from the high 80s to the low 90s, topping out at 94 mph this season and he was able to develop his changeup and slider.
“My velocity definitely improved,” the 6-2, 210-pound right-hander said. “When I had all three pitches working, it just became a matter of what pitch I wanted to strike you out with.”
Interest picked up in the fall and continued only grew as the season approached, Balcom-Miller said.
“I¹ve been hearing from a ton of people,” he said. “It¹s crazy. There are a lot of teams that have talked to me, but I¹ve been hear from the Red Sox the most. I¹m getting a little excited to see what happens, but I don¹t want to get too ahead of myself.”
Just in case the draft doesn¹t pan out, Balcom-Miller said he has signed with NAIA Lewis-Clark State for next year.
Balcom-Miller was 3-2 for Douglas in 2005 and earned second-team All-Sierra League honors after helping lead the Tigers to their first league title in more than a decade.
May, who broke the Douglas school record for career wins at 22 this year, could be a late-round pick during the draft, but has comitted to Western Nevada.
Another former Tiger who could get a look during the draft is first-baseman Ryan Laing, who has been at Pratt College in Kansas for the past two years. Laing broke the Pratt record for home runs in a season (19) this year, which led the NJCAA Region 6 and was fifth in the country. He also had 11 doubles, two triples and 61 RBI, while batting .400. Laing also holds the Nevada high school record for home runs in a game (4) and RBI in a game (10).
The MLB Draft begins Tuesday at 3 p.m. and concludes Wednesday.
– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling contributed to this story.
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