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Every couple of years it seems a Central Coast baseball star is selected in the first few rounds of the major league draft. 

Of course Danny Duffy was drafted by the Royals in 2007's third round out of Cabrillo. Righetti grad Devin Lohman went to the Reds out of Long Beach State in 2010, also in the third round.

Nipomo's Ryan McNeil was picked up by the Cubs in 2012's third round straight out of high school.

In 2017, however, the area had one of its highest draft picks in recent history. 

The Yankees, yes, the 27-time World Series champs from New York, took Righetti's Matt Sauer in the second round of the draft with the 54th overall pick.

The Yankees promptly signed the right-hander to a $2.5-million bonus and he spent his first season in the pros down in the Gulf Coast League in rookie ball.

Sauer's 2017 was a year he'll never forget. His story has been voted the No. 3 story of 2017 by the Lee Central Coast News sports staff.

Sauer's draft status is certainly lofty at No. 54 overall, thought it isn't the highest pick for a former Righetti baseball star. Robin Ventura was taken with the 10th overall pick, though Ventura did spend a few years at Oklahoma State after his days as a Warrior were over. 

Sauer, however, bypassed college and went straight to the pros, forgoing his scholarship offer to the University of Arizona. 

Sauer knew right when New York made its offer that he was going pro. 

"It looks like I'm going to be a New York Yankee," Sauer said when asked if he had made up his mind shortly after the Yankees picked him on June 12.

Not too long after, Sauer made his way to New York and signed his first professional contract at Yankee Stadium.

Sauer made six starts for the Yankees West in the GCL. He went 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in 11 2/3 innings pitched. He gave up 13 hits and seven earned runs while striking out 12 and walking eight. Sauer hit one batter and threw two wild pitches.

Not a bad start for an 18-year-old pitching and living thousands of miles away from home just weeks after graduating high school. 

Before 2017 started, there was a high level of confidence that Sauer would get drafted, but not many draft experts would've predicted his eventual ascent up draft boards. 

As a tall, slim right-handed pitcher at Righetti, Sauer drew attention from major college programs and played in premiere tournaments around the country, with his fastball topping out at 89-90 mph.

Then Sauer bulked up a bit after his junior season and his velocity spiked. Early in 2017 he was touching 95 mph on radar guns and even hit 97 mph during his senior season at Righetti. 

Just about every home start featured dozens of scouts, with radar guns aimed squarely on Sauer's fastball. His rise in velocity resulted in a rise up draft boards.

The rest is history and Sauer went from the purple and gold at Righetti to pinstripes in New York.

Next: Following up Sauer's historic draft night is the No. 2 story of the year, an unforgettable season from an area team that ended years of mediocrity in 2017.

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Joe Bailey is the sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Contact him with tips and story ideas at or (805) 739-2239. Follow him on Twitter at


Sports Editor

Alumni Fresno State