Astros select U. Minnesota’s Kvasnicka 33rd overall in MLB draft

By Derek Wetmore

About an hour before his team’s eventual loss to Cal-State Fullerton in the regional finals Monday night, U. Minnesota starting right fielder Mike Kvasnicka was selected by the Houston Astros as the 33rd pick in the supplemental portion of the first round of Major League Baseball’s amateur draft.

Kvasnicka is the highest drafted Minnesota player since the Twins took pitcher Glen Perkins with the 22nd pick in 2004. He is the highest position player taken since infielder Brett Gates was taken 26th overall by Oakland in 1991.

Kvasnicka can play in the outfield, behind the plate or at either corner infield position, and filled in for Kyle Knudson at catcher this season as Knudson recovered from off-season hip surgery. The Astros announced that they will use Kvasnicka as a third baseman.

Kvasnicka reached base in 40 straight games, and 61 of the team’s final 62 games, to end his junior season and likely his college career. He finished the season hitting .358 with eight home runs.

A graduate of Lakeville North, Kvasnicka was drafted out of high school by the Twins in the 33rd round (961st pick), but opted to play for the Gophers. His father, Jay, was selected by the Twins in the eighth round of the 1988 draft but didn’t make it to the majors.

The supplemental round comes sandwiched between the first and second rounds of the draft. When a team signs a “Class A” free agent – a player in the top 20 percent of players at his position, as determined by the Elias Sports Bureau – the signing team must give its top draft pick to the team which loses the free agent. In addition, the team which loses the free agent receives a pick in the supplemental round. Houston received its supplemental pick when it lost free-agent reliever Jose Valverde to Detroit.

Cal-State had two players selected in the first round, shortstop Christian Colon was taken fourth overall by the Kansas City Royals, and outfielder Gary Brown was selected 24th overall by the San Fransisco Giants.

One other notable Big Ten draftee was Ohio State’s starting pitcher Alex Wimmers, who was taken 21st overall by the Twins.

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