Fresno State catcher Taylor Ward was selected in the first round of the Major League amateur draft on Monday.
Ward, a junior, went to the Los Angeles Angels with the 26th overall pick.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Ward, who bats and throws right-handed, hit .304 (65 for 214) with seven homers, 23 extra-base hits, 39 runs and 42 RBIs in 59 games this season.
As a sophomore last season, Ward batted .320 with six homers and 14 extra-base hits, with 29 runs and 41 RBIs. He was a 31st-round pick in 2012 by Tampa Bay following his senior season at Shadow Hills High in Indio.
Ward’s selection continues Fresno State’s success of signing, recruiting and developing MLB draft picks: A year ago, the Bulldogs had four players and a record six signees drafted.
Ward becomes the 13th player in Fresno State’s storied history to be selected in the first round and the first since outfielder Aaron Judge went to the New York Yankees with the No. 32 overall pick in 2013.
Ward, who is reportedly more advanced defensively, was something of a surprise pick. MLB.com ranked him the No. 99 prospect before the draft.
“We are very excited with this selection and this is a great pick for us,” Angels scouting director Ric Wilson said in a statement. “We’ve scouted him all year long and have gotten to know him and feel very comfortable having him join our system. He has a tremendous throwing arm and we think he’s going to be a premium big league catcher. We’ve always liked his skill level and what he can do on both sides of the ball.”
The Angels have until July 17 to sign him. The suggested slot value for the 26th pick is $2,034,500.
A look at players with central San Joaquin Valley ties who could be drafted in the Major League Baseball amateur draft. There are always surprises, but draft devotees can follow along via a live stream and draft tracker at mlb.com.
- C Taylor Ward, Fresno State (No. 26, Los Angeles Angels)
- RHP Colton Eastman, Central
- RHP Garret Mundell, Fresno State
- 3B Manny Argomaniz, Fresno State
- LHP Alec Gamboa, Madera
- OF Eric Charles, Redwood
- 3B Ross Dodds, Buchanan
- SS Tevin Mitchell, Clovis
- RHP Connor Brogdon, Fresno City
- RHP Shane Desmond, Fresno City
- RHP Drayton Riekenberg, Fresno City
- 1B Preston Scott, Fresno Pacific
- LHP Wilson Ashford, Fresno Pacific
- CF Baron Bower, Fresno Pacific
- RHP Jake Shull, Fresno State
- CF Brody Russell, Fresno State
- CF Jackson Glines, Yosemite/Fresno City/Michigan
- RHP Tyler Ferguson, Clovis West/Vanderbilt
- RHP Braxton Lorenzini, West Hills
- Monday: Round 1 through Competitive Balance B
- Tuesday: 10 a.m., rounds 3-10 (MLB.com)
- Wednesday: 9 a.m. rounds 11-40 (MLB.com)