AZUSA, Calif. -- It’s the dream of millions of baseball-playing children everywhere, and that dream came true for 2 of Azusa Pacific’s finest baseball players in program history Friday morning, when co-GSAC Players of the Year Stephen Vogt and Scott Hodsdon were selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
“I had a couple of good friends with me this morning, and we all kind of went crazy, so it was pretty cool,” said Vogt. “I can’t really put it into words. It’s such an honor to be drafted. All I want to do is play more baseball.”
Hodsdon was the first off the board, taken as a pitcher by the Oakland Athletics in the sixth round as the 210th pick overall, and Vogt was snapped up by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with the opening pick of the 12th round, the 365th pick overall.
“I dreamed about it, but it’s been a lot of fun having this dream come true for me,” said Hodsdon. “It was a surprise to see my name pop up, but a good one, for sure. It’s great to know all your hard work has paid off and been recognized.”
Hodsdon was the third-highest draft selection in program history, and again teamed with Vogt to write yet another chapter in Cougar baseball history. No pair of teammates since 1983 had ever been drafted as high as Hodsdon and Vogt, who were each selected within the first 365 picks of the 50-round draft in which over 1500 draft-eligible players are selected annually by Major League clubs.
“I was really excited for them,” said Cougar head coach Paul Svagdis, who has now sent 4 players into the Major League Draft in just 5 seasons at Azusa Pacific. “Both of those guys are really close to my heart after having the privilege of coaching them for the last 4 years.”
Jeff Robinson and Rodney Martin were teammates on Azusa Pacific’s 1983 squad, and Robinson was the Cougars’ highest-ever draft pick at No. 69 overall while Martin was selected 348th overall in the 1983 draft.
The Oakland Athletics used their ninth selection of the 2007 draft to snap up Hodsdon in the midst of a run of 7 straight pitchers taken by the A’s. Although no official contract or minor league assignment will be offered until sometime after the draft is completed, he will likely be initially assigned to Oakland’s short-season Class A Northwest League affiliate, the Vancouver (B.C.) Canadians.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays kicked off the 12th round by selecting Vogt, their first catcher taken in the 2007 draft. Depending on minor league assignments, Vogt may well get the opportunity to catch the top overall selection in this year’s draft, left-handed Vanderbilt pitcher David Price. The likely destination for Vogt is Tampa Bay’s short-season Class A New York-Penn League affiliate, the Hudson Valley (N.Y.) Renegades.
The Oakland Athletics will use Hodsdon as a pitcher after the senior righthander came into his own with a stellar 2007 campaign in which he went 10-1 with 7 saves while posting a team-best 3.17 ERA. During one midseason stretch that ended the day the Cougars clinched their first GSAC championship since 2002, he fired 34 consecutive scoreless innings that included back-to-back shutouts of Biola and San Diego Christian. He tied the program’s single-season shutout record of 3 and came up just 15 strikeouts short of the program’s single-season strikeout mark. Hodsdon started 14 games and made 11 relief appearances, striking out 116 batters in 108 innings of work.
“It was a lot of fun having this great season and being at a great school, and all of it put together was the best 4 years of my life,” said Hodsdon. “Giving all the glory to God was something we really tried to stress this year. I wouldn’t be in this position today if God hadn’t given me the ability, and I’m very thankful.”
Hodsdon also set Cougar offensive records for single-season runs (74), home runs (26), RBIs (100) and total bases (191), and he ranks among the career leaders in runs (3rd-150), hits (4th-220), total bases (4th-397), home runs (3rd-40), runs batted in (3rd-175) and at-bats (6th-588).
“Scott is a fierce competitor on the field, and I think he likes to be in pressure situations,” said Svagdis. “He is his own motivator, and he wants to compete.”
For Vogt, Friday morning’s selection came with a huge sigh of relief. A year ago, Vogt had hoped that returning from an injury to bat .471 over the final 2 weeks of the season would confirm his worthiness of draft selection, only to watch as all 50 rounds passed without getting picked. Vogt turned the extra collegiate season into an opportunity to prove himself yet again, not only validating his individual talent but taking vocal and spiritual leadership of an Azusa Pacific squad that returned to the NAIA World Series for the first time since 1984.
“Over the last few days, I had a lot of bad memories because of what happened last year,” said Vogt. “I was very disappointed, and I thought I didn’t want to come back to Azusa Pacific. I really questioned a lot of things in my life and I wondered why I wasn’t drafted. But coming back here, having the season that we did and meeting my future wife this year, this was the greatest year of my life, and I now know I came back for a reason.”
For his efforts, Vogt earned his second NAIA All-American first team selection, and he wrapped up his career with 6 of Azusa Pacific’s career batting records along with 4 more single-season marks. In 2007, he collected a program-record 108 hits, including record numbers of 67 singles and 26 doubles, and he reached base 166 times, another single-season Cougar record. His career records include hits (294), doubles (74), total bases (471), runs batted in (199), walks (163) and batting average (.448).
“One of the biggest things I learned from the coaching staff at Azusa Pacific is that baseball is a game of attrition,” said Vogt. “You’ve got to grind it out, and you have to earn everything in life. My whole life I have been an underdog, from playing at a small high school to playing at a small college, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to prove myself at the next level, as well.”
Vogt also finished in the top 5 in career home runs (5th-31), at-bats (3rd-656) and games, (4th-189). He also surpassed the previous single-season total bases record of 172 set in 1984 by Rob Amble, collecting 178 but finishing behind Hodsdon, who established the new single-season mark this year with 191.
“Stephen Vogt is a general on the field,” said Svagdis. “He understands the game and has a great head on his shoulders. His work ethic is second-to-none.”
The senior teammates, Azusa Pacific’s first-ever 4-year seniors to earn NAIA All-American first team recognition in the same season, led the Cougars to the program’s first NAIA World Series since 1984, setting program records for total wins (51), home wins (33) and longest winning streak (24 games) along the way.
“It’s a real blessing when good things happen to good people, and both Scott and Stephen deserve every bit of it,” said Svagdis. “This is like icing on the cake for them to realize personal success after the season they had this year. I hope the characteristics both of them have brought to our program can be carried on by the rest of our players.”
Jason Ray, a 2005 eighth-round pick of the Oakland Athletics (251st overall) was Azusa Pacific’s last baseball draftee. After spending just over month on the minor league disabled list with an unspecified injury, Ray is back in action for the Stockton Ports, Oakland’s Class A Advanced California League affiliate, where he is 1-1 with a 2.53 ERA in 10.2 innings of relief work this season. Paul Moskau was picked in the third round (No. 70 overall) of the 1975 draft by the Cincinnati Reds, and Jeff Robinson was Azusa Pacific’s highest-ever draft pick after being selected in the third round (No. 69 overall) of the 1983 draft by the Detroit Tigers.