Three of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ top five draft picks were on display in Omaha in the College World Series final. The Dodgers’ top pick, Walker Buehler (No. 24 overall) and their third-round pick, Philip Pfeifer both pitched for runner-up and defending champions Vanderbilt.
The Commodores were not able to repeat as champions in the CWS final rematch, as this time Virginia came away victorious in the three-game series, which was a rematch of last season’s final.
Although he didn’t pitch in the final game of the season, Virginia’s success was largely tied to their closer and Dodgers Competitive Balance Round B (second round) pick, Josh Sborz (No. 74 overall). The Dodgers essentially bought the pick from the Baltimore Orioles when they traded for relief pitcher Ryan Webb, who was soon after released.
Sborz appeared in four games in the CWS, picking up three wins and one save. He tossed 13 scoreless innings, allowing seven hits and four walks, with 10 strikeouts. He threw 77 pitches in four scoreless innings on Tuesday to close out a 5-4 win to force a third and final game.
Sborz went 7-2 with 15 saves and a 1.60 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 73 innings this season as a junior with Virgina. Buehler started for Vanderbilt in the series finale and pitched 3+ innings, allowing two runs on a two-run homer in the fourth that marked the end of his day. He ended up getting a no-decision.
Pfeifer pitched the second game of the final for Vanderbilt, allowing three unearned runs in 5.2 innings. The left-hander did not allow an earned run in 12.2 innings in Omaha on 12 hits and four walks, with 13 strikeouts.
Now that the college season is over, the Dodgers are focused on signing the trio of draft picks that combined to go 5-2 with a save and a 0.74 ERA in 36.2 innings in the CWS. All three figure to add to the Dodgers pitching depth, with Buehler and Sborz possibly being Major-League ready as soon as next season. The Dodgers have signed 28 of their 42 draft picks, with some players already reporting to rookie ball.