USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - 2nd Lt. Ben Yokley of Air Force baseball was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 29th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft today. The recent graduate was is Air Force's first-ever pitcher drafted by an MLB team and the sixth all-time.
Yokley recently graduated from the Academy after a four-year career with Falcon baseball. The local product from Arvada (Ralston Valley High School), pitched in 95 career games, setting an Academy record. As the team's closer, Yokley appeared in 27 games as a senior, striking out 45 batters in 34.0 innings pitched. The righthander posted a 2-0 record to go with four saves and a 3.97 earned run average. As one of the hardest throwers in the Mountain West, Yokley averaged 11.9 strikeouts per nine-innings pitched.
"The Air Force Academy baseball program and athletic department are very excited to announce that Lt. Ben Yokley was selected in the 29th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball draft by the St Louis Cardinals," Falcon baseball head coach Mike Kazlausky said. "Ben had an outstanding career at the Academy and this is much deserved for him and our program. Ben was our record-setting closer and capped off the season by hitting 97 miles per hour on the radar gun at the conference tournament, which got him noticed by the pro scouts. Ben's Air Force goal is be become an outstanding Air Force officer as a Combat Rescue Officer."
Yokley is Air Force's second draftee under Kazlausky, joining catcher and 2013 graduate Garrett Custons, who was drafted in the 10th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013. Yokley is slated to begin his five year military commitment at undergraduate pilot training in addition to awaiting selection to become a combat rescue officer.
Upon graduation from the Academy, Yokley has 60 days of leave before beginning his duties with the Air Force. During that time, Yokley will be permitted to play for the Cardinals organization, upon signing of a contract.
"I'm incredibly excited for this opportunity to play professional baseball for the Cardinals organization before I start my officer career this fall," Yokley said. "The Air Force baseball program has a very bright future, with several draft-worthy players rising in the coming years. I'm very proud and thankful for the opportunity to have graduated from Air Force Academy and to have gotten the chance to play baseball these past four years. I hope I can represent the Academy and the Falcon baseball program as well as they deserve during my career with the Cardinals organization and as an officer with our United States Air Force."
Air Force Baseball Players Selected in MLB Draft
- 1972, Brad Fulk, Texas, 1st round, 2nd pick overall
- 1975, Jeff Brown, Philadelphia
- 1976, Jeff Brown, Philadelphia
- 2001, Mike Thiessen, Arizona, 42nd round
- 2007, Karl Bolt, Philadelphia, 15th round
- 2013, Garrett Custons, Toronto, 10th round
- 2015, Ben Yokley, St. Louis, 29th round
Falcons That Played Pro Ball
- Mike Thiessen, Lancaster, Adv.-A, Arizona, 2003
- Matt Kaercher, GCL Red Sox, Rookie League, Boston, 2003
- Matt Kaercher, Portland SeaDogs, Class AA, Boston, 2003
- Matt Kaercher, Sarasota Red Sox, Class A, Boston, 2004
- Karl Bolt, GCL Phillies, Rookie League, Philadelphia, 2007
- Karl Bolt, Lakewood BlueClaws, Class A, Philadelphia, 2008
- Garrett Custons, Bluefield Blue Jays, Class A, Toronto, 2013