Gonzaga’s 2021 MLB draft class continues rapid ascension toward Major Leagues

The 2021 MLB draft saw a trio of Gonzaga players selected within the first 16 rounds, another indication the Bulldogs are among the premier professional development programs in the entire country.

Brett Harris (seventh round – A’s) Ernie Yake (10th round – Twins) and Alek Jacob (16th round – Padres) have all had nearly immediate success in the minor leagues, with Yake and Jacob already reaching the Triple-A level.

Harris remains at Double-A, although he arguably has the brightest future of the trio. Playing for the Midland Rockhounds, Harris is currently slashing .272/.359/.436 with seven home runs and three stolen bases across 51 games played.

The 24-year-old currently has a 105 wRC+ (league average is 100) and continues to look like a future starter for the Oakland A’s, an incredible result for a seventh round pick just one year ago.

Yake was taken a few rounds later by Minnesota, and he has already risen up to the Triple-A Saint Paul Saints thanks to his speed and ridiculous contact ability. After 13 games in Single-A, Yake was quickly promoted to Double-A where he posted a .310/.370/.405 slash line with eight runs, five RBI, and three stolen bases in just 14 games played. Perhaps even more impressive was his 2.3% strikeout rate, an absolutely elite number that came with a tidy 6.5% walk rate as well.

Yake has only appeared in six games at Triple-A, and while he’ll need to display more power if he wants to reach the big leagues (he has zero career home runs) his ascent to the highest level of the minors is already very impressive.

Last, but certainly not least, is Jacob, a 16th round pick by the Padres who has flat out dominated since he was selected about a year ago.

Jacob was recently promoted to Triple-A after giving up just four earned runs in his entire career to that point. He has not found the same success in El Paso, giving up three home runs and six total runs in seven innings pitched, although his 10:1 K:BB ratio still points to a pitcher who is in the groove.

All told, these three Gonzaga stars drafted in 2021 could all end up being big leaguers by the end of next season. While older college players tend to rise quicker through the minor leagues than high schoolers or international prospects, this is still an unusually excellent result for three guys taken outside of the first five rounds – and once again remains a testament to the strength of Gonzaga’s baseball program.

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