Pacific baseball had an exciting final day of the 2022 MLB Draft as three Tigers were selected. Thomas Gavello went in the 13th round to the San Francisco Giants; the Cardinals took Hunter Hayes in the 16th round, and Elijah Birdsong was picked in the 18th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The last time the Tigers had three players taken in the draft was 2019 when Ryan Shreve, Samson Abernathy and Tyler Ryan were all selected on the draft’s final day.
“I could not be happier for Tommy, Hunter and Elijah,” Head Coach Chris Rodriguez says. “These three signify what it is to be a Tiger! It’s a great day for them and the program. I want to wish each of them the best and know they are ready for the challenges they will face.”
Gavello joins the Giants after leading the Tigers in various categories. He led the team in home runs (11), RBI (31), extra-base hits (24), total bases (92), walks (33), OPS (.888) and stolen bases (4). Gavello was tied for third in the WCC in home runs and was eighth in extra-base hits. He was named to the Perfect Game All-WCC team and the D1Baseball Preseason Top 50 Third Basemen list. Had 10 multi-hit games and 10 multi-RBI games.
Despite playing the infield during his career with the Tigers, the Giants selected Gavello as a catcher. Gavello will likely join one of the rookie-level Giants teams or the Single-A affiliate San Jose Giants.
“It’s a true blessing,” says Gavello on being drafted. “All of the hard work from the coaches, staff, and the support from my teammates will never be forgotten. Thank you family, friends and the Stockton community for helping me throughout this incredible journey. Pacific will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Hayes heads to the Cardinals after being one of the featured starters in the Tigers rotation as a junior. The right-handed pitcher led the Tigers in starts (14), innings pitched (64.2) and strikeouts (55). He had five games with five or more strikeouts and touched the upper 90s with his fastball.
Hayes will likely join one of the Cardinals Rookie League teams in the Florida Complex League, Dominican Summer League, or the Single-A Palm Beach Cardinals. Hayes was one of 13 pitchers selected by the Cardinals.
“It means the absolute world to me to be drafted!” said Hayes. “To have all my hard work come through and my childhood dream fulfilled is surreal. This is just the beginning for me, though, with lots of hard work to go. I am most excited to get to work and prove myself! I also want to thank Pacific and the whole athletic staff for all they have done for me the past two years!”
After working his way back from Tommy John surgery, Birdsong became the Tiger’s opening day starter. He joins the Pirates after appearing in 11 games with nine starts and finished the season third in strikeouts (37) and third in innings pitched (44.1). Birdsong was also named to the Perfect Game All-WCC team before the season.
Birdsong will likely join the Pirates FCL Rookie League team or the Single-A Bradenton Marauders.
“The accomplishment of getting drafted is humbling and a true blessing”, Birdsong said. “It’s something I have prayed for and worked for day in and day out for as long as I can remember. I would not have gotten to this point without God, my mom and the rest of my support system that has had my back. This is just the beginning of me fulfilling my dream to play Major League Baseball.”