(March 23, 2022, Viera, Fla.) – The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball held its annual Player Draft on Wednesday at the USSSA Space Coast Complex in Viera, Fla. The draft occurred at the end of the two-day Atlantic League Professional Showcase presented by Prospect Dugout.
Hector Guance was the first overall pick, going to the Staten Island FerryHawks who will begin their first season of play in 2022. Guance is a 6-6, 200-pound righthanded pitcher who spent six years in professional baseball including five seasons in the Baltimore organization. A native of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, the 26-year old Guance compiled a 22-21 record in the minors, primarily as a starting pitcher.
The second pick went to the Kentucky Wild Health Genomes, another first-year franchise in the Atlantic League. The Genomes traded the pick to Long Island in return for the rights to OF Chris Shaw. Long Island then drafted LHP Cody Beckman with the second pick of the first round.
As new entries to the Atlantic League, the FerryHawks and the Genomes alternated on the first 12 picks of the draft. The third overall pick by the FerryHawks was RHP Jordan Simpson. Kentucky then selected C Robbie Kellerman with the fourth pick.
Staten Island’s other selections included LHP Anthony Rodriguez (No. 5) and RHP Yohn Zapata (No. 11). The FerryHawks traded away their seventh and ninth selections for players to be named later.
Kentucky selected utility player Will Decker at No. 6 before selecting C Alexis “Scrappy” Hopkins at No. 8. Hopkins is believed to be the first female ever drafted by an American professional baseball team for an on-field role. In 2008, in a special supplemental Negro League draft to the MLB Draft, the Washington Nationals selected 72-year old Mamie “Peanut” Johnson to mark the first woman ever drafted.
Update: According to Baseball America, LHP Carey Schueler was a 43rd round pick of the Chicago White Sox in 1993. While she did not sign, she is believed to be the first woman drafted in a non-honorary role.
The Genomes are expected to offer Hopkins the position of bullpen catcher.
“Scrappy handled the pitchers better than most of the guys here,” said Southern Maryland Blue Crabs manager Stan Cliburn, a former Major League catcher. “There were guys throwing 93 to 95 (MPH) and she handled it just fine. And she was really good at blocking and picking the ball as well.”
Kentucky added RHP Bradley Hines at No. 10 and 1B Alex Wemple at No. 12 to conclude their first round selections.
Southern Maryland made the ninth selection after obtaining the pick from Staten Island and chose RHP Junior Navas.
Gastonia used the 13th pick in the draft to select SS Kevin Lambert while York picked LHP Adrian Alarcon with the 14th pick. Lancaster chose LHP Josh Smith at No. 15 and was followed by Charleston which took OF Kyle Robinson. Defending Atlantic League champion Lexington picked LHP Darrien Ragins with the 17th pick overall. Southern Maryland added LHP Dario Polanco at No. 18 and High Point picked RHP Thomas Derer with the 19th pick. Long Island passed on the final selection of the first round and all teams passed on the second round.
The Atlantic League teams open spring training on April 10 and Opening Day is slated for Thursday, April 21.
The complete draft follows:
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