Ex-Huskies off to sterling beginnings

Willy Yahn is one of the former Huskies playing professional baseball now. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Willy Yahn is one of the former Huskies playing professional baseball now. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

After a 2017 campaign in which they missed the NCAA tournament, the UConn baseball program still managed to have four Huskies selected in the 2017 MLB draft.

Wills Montgomerie, a pitcher from Lakeville, Connecticut, was the first Husky selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth round. After going 6-3 with a 3.73 and leading UConn in strikeouts in the spring, he only pitched 6.2 innings this summer.

He started with the rookie level Arizona Dodgers of the Arizona League, pitching three perfect innings with six strikeouts before being bumped to the Great Lakes Goons, the Dodgers full-season “A” level team where in three and two thirds innings he allowed three runs on five hits and three walks before being placed on the disabled list, ending his season.

Next up was John Russell, UConn’s closer in the spring who posted 14 saves with a 2.84 earned run average and team best opponent batting average of .196. The San Francisco Giants selected him in the 16th round and initially assigned him to their short season “A” affiliate, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of the Northwest League.

There, he went 1-2 but posted an impressive 1.99 earned runs average with four saves, 37 strikeouts and an opponent batting average of .165 in 22.2 innings. After his time in Oregon he was assigned to the San Francisco Giants Arizona league rookie team where he pitched just two innings, allowing one hit and getting one strikeout.

The third UConn player chosen, and the only position player, was infielder Willy Yahn who led the Huskies’ offense with a .317 batting average and an aggressive approach. Chosen in the 25th round by the Baltimore Orioles, Yahn got off to a torrid start for Baltimore’s Gulf Coast League team before leveling off.

In 56 games with 209 at-bats, Yahn had a slash line of .278/.350/.335 with 58 hits, 12 doubles and 33 RBI. Yahn played the majority at his familiar third-base but also played six games at second base and two innings at shortstop.

Senior Doug Domnarski, who struggled for UConn in the spring, going 1-4 with an 8.24 ERA, was the final Husky picked. The Florida Marlins picked him in the 27th round and assigned him to their Gulf Coast League.

There, in 14 innings over 17 games, he had a 1.59 earned run average, allowing 14 hits and 11 walks with two saves.

All in all, put in typical situations of rookie or “A” for draft picks of their stature, the 2017 UConn draft showed well. Some, if not all of them, may find themselves soon playing in developmental fall leagues as well.


Matt Barresi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.barresi@uconn.edu.