Valparaiso senior second baseman Tanner Vavra (Menomonie, Wis./Menomonie [Madison]) became the fourth Crusader in the last four seasons to be drafted in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, as he was chosen in the 30th round by the Minnesota Twins with the 890th overall pick.
“We're all very excited for Tanner today,” said Crusader head coach Tracy Woodson. “This is a great opportunity for him and well-deserved. Tanner is a player who has had to prove himself at every level, and now he gets the chance to prove himself at the professional level.”
Vavra was an All-Horizon League selection in each of his two seasons at Valparaiso. As a junior in 2012, Vavra was a First Team All-League choice and also earned a spot on the league's All-Newcomer Team after hitting .332 with team-best totals of 52 runs scored, 15 stolen bases and a school-record 22 hit by pitches. This season, Vavra paced the entire Horizon League in runs scored (43) and hits (73), while ranking among the top-five in batting average (.330) and on-base percentage (.410) in earning Second Team All-League accolades.
Beyond his individual achievements, Vavra helped the Crusader baseball program reach heights it hadn't scaled in over 40 years. Vavra was a member of the league's All-Tournament Team in 2012, hitting .429 over the course of the Horizon League Championship as Valpo captured its first Horizon League title and returned to the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time since 1968. This year, Vavra picked up four hits and three runs scored as the Crusaders won three straight to repeat as league champions, and then drove in three runs in the NCAA Tournament, including an RBI in Valpo's first NCAA win in 47 years.
Vavra is the Crusaders' fourth MLB Draft pick in the last four years, with the most recent selection being Kyle Gaedele in the sixth round of the 2011 draft by the San Diego Padres. Gaedele is currently playing for the Lake Elsinore Storm of the California League, the Padres' high-A affiliate. Overall, Vavra is the 19th player from Valparaiso to be selected in the MLB Draft in program history and the fifth in the seven-year tenure of Woodson.
“I think it's about recognition,” said Woodson about the program's recent run of draft picks. “When you do well and win league championships, the program gets recognition and the players in the program get noticed. We want people to realize there are good players here at Valpo, and I think that the past last few years have shown that teams are realizing that with the number of draft picks we've had. So we're definitely excited that Tanner was drafted, to continue that run of recognition of talent.”