Troy goes 12th overall, MLB Draft takes nine from Stanford

July 18, 2023, 9:28 p.m.

In each of the last three years, Stanford baseball has made it to college baseball’s biggest stage. And for some members of these three years’ teams, they’ll likely be making the jump to the only place where the lights shine brighter. 

With nine players selected in this year’s MLB Draft, Stanford had the third-most picks among all schools, trailing only LSU and Wake Forest, who had 13 and 10, respectively. 

To kick things off for Stanford in the 2023 MLB Draft, junior Tommy Troy was drafted 12th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round on July 9.

Troy marks Stanford’s 23rd player to go in the first round of the MLB Draft — extending the school’s lead for most first-round draft picks of all-time. The infielder is the first Cardinal to be selected in the first round since Nico Hoerner ’18 went to the Chicago Cubs with the 24th overall pick and the earliest a Stanford player has been picked since Cal Quantrill ’16 went eighth overall in 2016.

“There’s obviously a rich history of Stanford players going high in the draft,” said Stanford head coach David Esquer. “With Tommy having the year he had, it was pretty evident that he was going to be a first round pick and someone who’s going to play in the big leagues. So the Diamondbacks got a good one.”

The selection follows a remarkable junior year campaign that concluded with the 21-year-old playing his best baseball yet. After winning the 2023 Pac-12 batting title with a .404 batting average during the regular season, Troy earned MVP honors in the Stanford Regional, thanks to a ridiculous .571 average and 11 RBIs during the regional’s five-game stretch. He finished the season with a team-best .394, adding a career-best 98 hits, 17 home runs and 58 doubles. 

Troy was a contributor in the decorated Stanford program from day one, starting 39 games his freshman year. The righty appeared in at least 49 contests each of his three seasons as a Cardinal, posting improved batting averages, hits, runs and home runs each year. The junior will finish his college career with a number of prestigious accolades under his belt, including multiple All-American honors. 

Reports indicate that the Diamondbacks plan on playing Troy at shortstop. The first-rounder mostly assumed third base this past season at Stanford, but has proven his ability to play second and shortstop during periods in college and over the summers.

July 10 remained a cause for celebration for Stanford baseball, as seven Cardinal players were selected on day two of the MLB Draft. 

Pac-12 Player of the Year and fellow junior Alberto Rios was the next to go, after being chosen 79th overall by the Los Angeles Angels. 

“He deserves it and worked hard for it,” Esquer said. “But what a great year: Player of the Year and All-League and All-American and a third round draft pick. I mean, I don’t know if it can get any better than that.”

Rios, who had just seven plate appearances his first two seasons at Stanford, burst onto the national scene this year. Posting a .384 batting average and team-best 18 home runs and 73 RBIs this past season, Rios’ slugging ability is the main appeal of this pick, according to most scouting reports.

Senior Quinn Matthews and juniors Ryan Bruno and Joey Dixon, all pitchers, were the next three Stanford selections, going to the St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks and Houston Astros, respectively. Matthews, who served as Stanford’s ace in 2023, and Bruno both earned All-American honors this season while Dixon was recognized as an All-Pac-12 honorable mention.

The trio combined for 242.2 innings pitched, or 42% of Stanford’s total IP this past season. With their departure, a big void presents itself in the Cardinal pitching roster.

“We prepare for that,” Esquer said of the bullpen turnover. “We’ve got a strong pitching class coming in … that’s part of recruiting and it’s just one of the facts of having a successful program with good players.”

Three Stanford juniors went in the eighth round, as first baseman Carter Graham was selected by the Cincinnati Reds, Eddie Park by the Chicago White Sox and Drew Dowd by the Tampa Bay Rays. 

To round out the draft, junior Drew Bowser was picked in the 20th round by the Chicago Cubs. Set to join Park in the Windy City, Bowser — like many of the Stanford picks that preceded him — was a major factor for Stanford during his three years on the Farm. Starting in at least 50 games each season, the infielder recorded at least 60 hits and 40 RBIs every year.

All nine Cardinal were key components in the program’s College World Series appearance this year, and many of them were in prior years as well. 

“Pretty exciting, right?” Esquer said. “That’s obviously just kind of a tribute to the development the guys have while they’re here.”

Although the departure of such a contingent could seem devastating for Stanford fans, a similar situation presented itself last year when six Cardinal players were selected. Only Matthews, who was drafted in the 19th round, returned to the collegiate field; however, the program wouldn’t have to wait for another trip to Omaha, Neb.

For this upcoming season, the path to return will require early learning, especially with the anticipated turnover. 

“We’re gonna have to grow up early,” Esquer commented about next year. “We’ve got players who’ve been waiting for an opportunity to play, so it’ll be a tall order to get back next year. But I think we just have to grow into that type of team and the good thing is that the bar has been set so high in our program, I think our guys know what they’re reaching for and what it’s supposed to look like. And I think that’s nothing but positive.”

While it remains to be seen which players will and will not be signing, it’s inevitable that the young talent will be asked to step up in the absence of key contributors from 2023. Luckily for Stanford, there are some rising stars within the program that are already being looked at to lead the future.

“It starts with Malcom Moore and Braden Montgomery,” Esquer said. 

Moore, a catcher, is fresh off a first-year campaign that earned him Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. Montgomery, a former Pac-12 Freshman of the Year himself, has continued to amaze fans and scouts alike with his two-way abilities after posting a .336 batting average and 17 home runs in 2023. It was announced July 11, however, that he entered the transfer portal.

“You know, you expect them to come back and have big years,” Esquer said. “You build around two players like that, and then you hopefully get some surprises with some freshmen and some guys who have been waiting in the wings.”

With positions to fill and questions to answer, Stanford baseball has a long road ahead of them. Nevertheless, the goal remains: return to where they’ve made it the last three years. 

“I’m looking forward to it because I think it’s gonna push us to great heights,” Esquer said. “It’ll be exciting.”

Zach Zafran was the Vol. 262 managing editor for the sports section. Now a senior staff writer, he has previous experience reporting and writing with SFGATE. You can find Zach around campus wearing swim trunks no matter the weather. Follow him on Twitter at @ZachZafran and contact him at sports 'at'

Login or create an account