5 former Nashua Silver Knights selected in MLB draft

NASHUA – It was a big day on Wednesday for former Nashua Silver Knights.

Five former Nashua players were drafted, while two who were expected to go didn’t get a call.

Merrimack’s Mickey Gasper, a junior catcher at Bryant University who was last year’s Futures League Player of the Year, was not selected, somewhat of a surprise. Neither was former Silver Knights second baseman Max Burt (Northeastern). Both will be playing this summer in the Cape Cod League.

But for five others, the news was different. Erik Ostberg, who caught for Nashua during the 2015 season, led the list as he was grabbed in the 13th round (379th overall) by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Ostberg was a junior at the University of Hartford this spring and was the nation’s top hitter before he injured his knee after 24 games. He hit .349 for Nashua two summers ago.

“He’s a great hitter, we knew that when he was here,” Silver Knights manager B.J. Neverett said.

Johnny Adams, a shortstop who just graduated from Boston College and played in the second year the FCBL allowed recent high school graduates (2013), was grabbed by the Seattle Mariners in the 22nd round (No. 663).

“I was so happy for that boy,” Neverett said. “I thought he might be a sign guy after the draft, the fact he went in the 22nd round was good.”

The Pittsburgh Pirates took two players, third baseman Ben Bengston of Concord and the University of Hartford in the 23rd round, 688th overall. Bengston was with the Silver Knights in 2015 but was injured midway through the season.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh also took former Silver Knight pitcher Drew Fischer (Amherst College), who shares the single season strikeout record with 57 K’s last season, in the 35th round (No. 1,048).

In somewhat of a surprise, the Detroit Tigers grabbed another New Hampshire native, Jake Nelson of Hopkinton, in the 33rd round (995th overall). Nelson, who pitches for the University of Pennsylvania, was the Knights closer last year with nine saves, but has had arm woes since last season.

Neverett said that he was mildly surprised that there were no takers for Gasper and Burt, who will play their senior seasons and be draft eligible again next June. There was a strong chance Gasper was going to stay at Bryant for his senior year, anyway, to work on his catching skills.

“Yeah, I’m pretty surprised,” Neverett said. “If those two guys haven’t been drafted this time around, they will their senior year. They’ll (MLB clubs) will get them cheaper. There’s no rush on those guys. They’ll be there.

“I think the best thing that’s going to happen, Mickey has a chance to go down to the Cape now and tear it up. If he does well down there, he’ll be better for it.”

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