Local Roundup: Padres select former Nighthawk in MLB draft

  • Nighthawks pitcher Levi Thomas throws from the mound in the first inning of their game against the Mainers in White River Junction, Vt., on June 14, 2018. Sanford won, 5-2. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Geoff Hansen

  • Levi Thomas

  • Levi Thomas

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/12/2020 9:25:55 PM
Modified: 6/12/2020 9:25:41 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A former Upper Valley Nighthawk heard his name called in the Major League Baseball entry draft for the fourth straight year on Thursday night.

Troy University junior pitcher Levi Thomas went to the San Diego Padres in the fourth round of MLB’s truncated selection process, the 109th pick overall. The MLB draft, normally a 40-round process, was reduced to five rounds this year in a money-saving move because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has kept the professional game sidelined at all levels.

The Cullman, Ala., native had an outstanding virus-shortened spring season with the Trojans, going 2-1 in four starts with an 0.39 earned-run average and 42 strikeouts in just 23 innings of work. Over his three-year Troy career, Thomas — who will turn 22 years of age on June 29 — was 12-3, mostly as a starter, with 185 Ks against 53 walks in 145 innings with a 2.98 ERA.

A right-hander, Thomas threw for the Nighthawks during the New England Collegiate Baseball League campaign two summers ago. He made seven starts, going 1-3 with a 4.05 ERA, fanning 33, walking 14 and allowing 35 hits in 33⅓ innings. His best outings came toward the end of the summer; he closed his Upper Valley time with seven shutout innings in a 3-0 blanking of Keene on July 26, 2018.

Thomas is the 11th Nighthawk chosen in the MLB draft in the NECBL team’s five-year history. Four players (Danny Wirchansky, Ty Adcock, A.J. Franklin, Grayson Byrd) went last year, five more (Ryan Jeffers, Matt Sanders, Luke Reynolds, Billy Layne Jr., Cam Alldred) were called in 2018, and Brian Mims was Upper Valley’s sole alumnus picked in 2017.

MLB’s signing bonus slot system values Thomas as a pick worth $533,000. Because of the vastly shortened selection process, MLB agreed to allow teams to sign an unlimited number of free-agent college players beginning Sunday morning for a maximum of $20,000 each. However, most college seniors who might sign have the option of returning to their schools next spring after having their most recent season wiped out by the pandemic.

WOMEN’S ROWINGDartmouth hires new head coach

HANOVER — Nancy LaRocque has been hired as Dartmouth College’s head coach for women’s rowing.

LaRocque, a 17-year coaching veteran, spent the last seven years at Wisconsin. The Badgers made the NCAA championships six times under LaRocque’s watch, with ninth-place finishes in 2016 and ’17.

She is a Dover, N.H., native who graduated from UMass-Amherst in 1997 and serves as the president of the board of directors for the College Rowing Coaches Association.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.

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