Mets scoop up Black Bears outfielder Tillman Pugh in 15th round

2010-06-08T18:55:00Z Mets scoop up Black Bears outfielder Tillman Pugh in 15th roundBy Rick S. Alvord / The Daily News Longview Daily News
June 08, 2010 6:55 pm  • 

Tillman Pugh's summer odyssey to Cowlitz County will likely be a short one.

The Cowlitz Black Bears center fielder and leadoff man learned from a newspaper reporter midway through Tuesday's workout at David Story Field that he had been selected in Major League Baseball's amateur draft earlier in the day.

He was stunned. And honored.

"That's awesome," said Pugh, who was selected by the New York Mets in the 15th round (452nd overall pick). "I didn't know if I'd get drafted again. I am excited about the opportunity."

Pugh, a native of Oakland, Calif., was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 16th round of last year's draft, but decided not to sign because he didn't think he was ready to play professional baseball.

"I wanted to stay another year in college and get closer to my degree (in kinesiology). Plus, I enjoyed college. I had lots of friends and I was close to home," said Pugh, who spent last season at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif., located in the Napa Valley wine country, about an hour from Oakland.

"But now I feel like I am ready to sign and I'm very happy that I was picked. I feel like I am ready to pursue a pro career. We'll see what happens," he added. "It's always been my dream to play pro ball."

Pugh, 21, batted leadoff and started in center field in the Black Bears' first two games. He scored the first run in team history on Friday when he led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk and later scampered home on a single by Jason Mahood from the University of San Francisco.

The team is scheduled to host the Portland Stars in the third of three nonleague contests at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday before opening its West Coast League schedule at home against the Corvallis Knights on Friday.

Pugh, who is 6 feet and 190 pounds with blazing speed, said he will sign with New York "once everything has been talked over on both sides." He worked out for the Mets in Los Angeles earlier this year and said "things went really well."

"They seemed impressed," he said. "They told me to stay in touch."

Pugh signed with Arizona State University out of high school and helped the Sun Devils to the Pac-10 Conference title. He spent the following season at GateWay Community College in Phoenix and batted .333 for the Geckos, with the Mariners taking him in the 16th round a month later.

He then transferred closer to home at Sonoma State, where he redshirted last season.

Black Bears head coach Bryson LeBlanc jokingly told Pugh at Tuesday's workout that he would serve as his agent in negotiations with the Mets.

"After two months, I'd screw everything up and he'd get to play the whole season with us," LeBlanc said with a laugh. "I haven't talked to him a lot about it yet, but I hope Tillman gets what Tillman wants. I know I'm being selfish, but we'd love for him to stay here and play. But getting drafted ... that's every kid's dream.

"Tillman can swing it. He's got bat speed, he can run and he can flat-out go get the ball," LeBlanc added. "He's pretty good, without a doubt. And when I say he's pretty good, that's an understatement."

Pugh said he hasn't had time to see much of Longview-Kelso since arriving last week. He landed with the Black Bears after sending out letters and e-mails to several summer college leagues.

"I didn't have a team to play for this summer, so I made some contacts and explained my situation," he said. "The president of this league (West Coast League president Ken Wilson) e-mailed me back and said he had a spot for me."

If he signs with the Mets soon, Pugh won't have an opportunity to try his hand at fishing in Lake Sacajawea.

"My host family said they'd take me down there," he said. "On Monday, we drove to Vancouver and went to the mall, but that's about all I've done so far except play baseball. I like it here, though. I'm happy to be here."

Even if his stay might be cut short by a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Copyright 2016 Longview Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No Comments Posted.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick