The Cleveland Indians chose UCSB sophomore left-hander Rodney Boone in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball draft on Monday, the second Gaucho pitcher to be drafted after Michael McGreevy went in the first round Sunday.
In a standout 2021 season, Boone was named co-Big West Pitcher of the Year, while also earning Second Team All-American and First Team All-West Region. The Orange native went 11-4 with a 2.31 ERA in 16 starts, striking out a school-record 128 in 97-1/3 innings.
Over three years, including the pandemic-shorted 2020 season, Boone went 21-5 with a 2.52 ERA at UCSB.
He will join fellow ex-Gaucho pitchers Shane Bieber and Kyle Nelson in the Cleveland organization.
In fact, all-star Bieber talked up Boone to Tribe officials.
“We touched base with Shane and he was excited about Rodney,” Scott Barnsby, Indians director of amateur scouting said. “He knows him well. (Boone) has advanced feel to pitch with deception.”
That deception, and ball movement, are hallmarks mentioned on an MLB.com draft assessment of Boone.
Though not as high-profile a prospect as his rotation-mate McGreevy, Boone “was still impressing scouts with his ability to dominate opponents,” the MLB assessment said.
While his fastball velocity is below-average, topping out at 90 mph, Boone has shown “an ability to miss bats without premium stuff.”
“He commands the pitch well and isn’t afraid to come up in the zone with it to get hitters to chase, and deception in his delivery allows it to play up. … He sells his 77-79 mph changeup, his best pitch, really well with good arm speed.”
Boone ranked 10th in the nation this season with a 5.09 Hits Allowed per Nine Innings average. He also led the Big West with a .165 opponent batting average in his 97.1 innings of work.
Boone nearly took the Big West triple crown this season leading the league with 11 wins and 128 strikeouts, while ranking second with his 2.31 ERA.
Boone also picked up a win in his first postseason start, in the NCAA Tuscon Regional against Oklahoma State. He went 7.1 innings of four-hit ball while allowing just three earned runs and striking out 11 batters. He was named to the All-Regional team.