San Diego Padres draft South star Homza in 5th round

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 13, 2017

The first time Alaska Baseball Academy manager Tony Wylie took South High star Jonny Homza of Anchorage to spring training in Arizona nobody believed Homza was from Alaska.

As a 16-year-old, Homza handled himself well against minor-league professional pitchers and showed off an A-plus arm from third base.

The scouts were incredulous.

“They kept saying, ‘There is no blanking way this kid is from Alaska,’” Wylie told me. “At that point, he was known.”

Today, he was drafted.

Homza, a versatile infielder, catcher and pitcher, was selected by the San Diego Padres in the fifth round of today’s Day 2 of the MLB draft.

On his 18th birthday, no less.

The Padres took Homza with the 138th pick – the second-highest selection by a player from Alaska. He’s only the third non-pitcher from here to be selected in the top 20.

“Jonny Homza is the best all-around player and most competitive player I have ever coached,” South coach Taylor Nerland told me. “He loves the game and wants to get better at it.”

Homza is a two-time Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year and led South to back-to-back appearances in the state championship game, pitching a complete-game win to help the Wolverines win as a junior.

This year the senior slugger batted .549 with 31 runs and 19 RBIs in 17 games. He had 12 extra-base hits, including his only home run in the state semifinals. As a pitcher he was 3-0 with a 0.91 ERA in 23 innings.

But he didn’t get drafted because of what he did in Alaska. And he won’t pitch at the next level. He’s expected to begin his professional career at third base but could move to catcher at some point.

Either way, they are getting the total package in the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder.

“His swing is pretty, his footwork is outstanding,” Wylie said. “You don’t normally get that polish with Alaska players.”

Homza started the summer with the Anchorage Bucs and wanted to play tonight after getting drafted, but general manager Shawn Maltby didn’t want to take any chances.

In the short amount of time Maltby saw Homza practice and play he liked what he saw.

“We wouldn’t have taken a risk on a high school senior if I didn’t think he could compete,” the longtime Alaska Baseball League GM said. “He’s athletic, plays multiple positions, hits everything. He’s got a great baseball IQ.”

Homza delivered a pinch-hit double for the Bucs the other night. He also brings a professional approach to the plate, making the pitcher work for every inch.

“Jonny goes up there the other day and fouls off five or six balls off in a row,” Matlby said. “Some guys get frustrated, but that’s a great at-bat. He understands that. Normally a kid won’t get it or is too selfish to get it.”

Nerland said Homza was always different – from the way he played baseball to his workout habits to his disciplined diet. Whatever he does, he’s it in to win it.

“Even when he hits the ball really hard at somebody and gets out, he thinks he could have hit it a little harder and wants that next at-bat to prove he can do it,” Nerland said. “Whatever the competition, he’s going to easily win it because he wants it that bad.”

 

Top 10 MLB Draft picks from Alaska

2000 SP Brian Montalbo Anchorage 4th Atlanta Braves

2017 INF Jonny Homza Anchorage 5th San Diego Padres

2009 SP Matt Way Sitka 5th Philadelphia Phillies

2012 SP Dylan Baker Juneau 5th Cleveland Indians

1994 INF Trajan Landgon Anchorage 6th San Diego Padres

2001 RP Chad Bentz Juneau 7th Montreal Expos