Within five days of one former Hartford Hawks baseball standout making a shining debut on the Major League Baseball stage, three current Hawks were selected in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft.
Catcher Erik Ostberg, shortstop Ben Bengtson A’16, and first baseman David MacKinnon ’17 were all selected during the third day of the draft on Wed., June 14.
“To have your name called in the draft is something that many young men work towards and dream about,” says Hartford head baseball coach Justin Blood. “I’m really proud and happy for these guys.”
Seventeen Hawks have been drafted in program history, seven during Blood’s six-year tenure.
“It’s a great sign for our program to have guys selected in the draft,” Blood adds. “It shows that we have skilled players and that we can develop talent here at Hartford.”
The world got to see an example of such talent on Saturday, June 10, when former Hawk Sean Newcomb, a first-round pick in the 2014 MLB draft, made his Major League debut for the Atlanta Braves in a game against the New York Mets. Newcomb limited the Mets to three hits and one unearned run in six-plus innings of work while recording seven strikeouts.
“I don’t know that you ever see a kid handle it (his big-league debut) any better, that’s for sure,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said after the game.
During Newcomb's second outing on July 16, he showed his first start was not an aberration. He allowed just five hits in six innings of work, striking out three Miami Marlins in the process. Unfortunately, he again was the victim of poor run support, being carded with a loss in a 5-0 defeat. But following the game, the Braves indicated they would go with a six-man rotation for at least another week, ensuring Newcomb at least one more start at the big-league level.
Now three more members of Hawk Nation will look to fulfill their dreams: Ostberg, selected in the 13th round by the Tampa Bay Rays; Bengtson, a 23rd-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates; and MacKinnon, chosen by the Los Angeles Angels in the 32nd round.
MacKinnon, an accounting major from Easton, Mass., graduated last month from the Barney School of Business, finishing his academic career with a 3.87 cumulative GPA. He earned President's List (3.75+ GPA) distinction six times and earned America East Commissioner's Honor Roll recognition in each of his eight semesters at UHart.
During his final season, MacKinnon was the only Hawk to start in all 50 games. He posted a .327 batting average, leading the team in hits and runs scored. MacKinnon finished his career as the program's all-time leader in hits, runs, and putouts.
Ostberg, a Florence, Mass., native enrolled in the School of Communication in the College of Arts and Sciences, led the nation in batting average and on-base percentage through the first six weeks of the 2017 season before being sidelined by injury.
Bengtson, from Concord, N.H., received an associate degree from Hillyer College in 2016 before continuing his studies at the Barney School of Business. He owned a .323 batting average this past season and finished second on the team with 36 runs batted in.