The Daily Star
---- — STAFF REPORT
Long Island product Steve Ascher, a left-hander who had a standout junior season for Oneonta State, was selected in the 17th round of the Major League Baseball draft Saturday by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Ascher, the SUNY Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2014, was the 517th overall pick.
Born in Cutchogue, Ascher led the Red Dragons in ERA (1.69), innings (69 1/3), strikeouts (82) and held opposing batters to a .193 average this spring.
Last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers picked Greg Harris in the 17th round and gave him a $175,000 signing bonus.
Ascher signed his contract Monday and will play for the Princeton (Va.) Rays of the Rookie League.
“I couldn’t be happier for Steve,” O-State coach Ben Grimm said in a media release sent by the school. “To see how far he’s come since his freshman year has been something special. He took a real leap in the last year, which is a testament to his work ethic.”
Ascher received a call from his advisor Friday telling him the Rays and the Kansas City Royals were thinking of drafting him early Saturday, which was rounds 11 through 40. Ascher has been playing for the Cotuit Kettlers of the Cape Cod Baseball League.
“I left the hotel early in the morning and went back to my host family’s house to get ready for my doubleheader,” Ascher wrote in an email to O-State’s sports information department. “Just as I was leaving to go to the field, I received a call from the Royals asking me if I was still signable and asking what I wanted.
“During the second inning of game 1 I got the same call from the New York Mets and actually thought that’s where I was going to be headed. A few minutes later I received two text messages congratulating me. I figured I should check the draft board and that’s when I saw I had been selected by the Rays.”
Ascher becomes the first O-State player selected in the draft since hard-throwing Dave Filak was picked by the Atlanta Braves in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Filak played four professional seasons in the minor leagues, a career that ended in 2013.
Ascher went 6-4 for an O-State squad that finished 13-25.
On March 14, Ascher struck out 15 in a two-hitter as the Red Dragons defeated Clarkson, 2-0. He threw a four-hitter with seven strikeouts in leading O-State to an 8-0 victory against Kean on March 22.
His final appearance of the season came against Division III powerhouse Cortland, a 9-1 loss in the SUNYAC tournament. Ascher allowed five runs on eight hits over seven innings. He struck out one and walked five.
Ascher’s selection also marks the second time the Rays have picked a player with local ties in recent years. In the 2008 draft, Tampa drafted Cooperstown graduate Phil Pohl out of high school in the 44th round.
Pohl opted to attend Clemson, where he played catcher for four seasons.
Pohl was drafted in the 28th round by the Oakland A’s in 2012, and is playing for Beloit Snappers -- the Oakland’s mid-level Single-A team.
Also drafted was former Oneonta Outlaws pitcher Jeremy Rhoades, who went in the fourth round to the Los Angeles Angels. Rhoades played for the Outlaws in 2012 and was selected to play in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League All-Star game that season.
Rhoades, a right-hander, played in college for Illinois State.