ARLINGTON, Texas — A Hallsville High School alum will once again call the Lone Star State home after being plucked by the Texas Rangers in the third round of the 2019 MLB Draft.
University of New Mexico junior right-handed pitcher Justin Slaten was taken by the Rangers with the 86th overall pick making him the highest Lobo baseball draft pick since Luis Gonzalez was the No. 87 pick in the 2017 draft.
In his first year being draft-eligible, Slaten skyrocketed up draft boards with a sensational junior campaign. The Hallsville graduate posted career-bests in ERA, wins, innings pitched, strikeouts and opponent batting average against.
The ace of the Lobo pitching staff, Slaten posted a 5-5 record with a 2.51 ERA and a .215 opponent batting average against. In 82.1 innings pitched, Slaten registered 98 strikeouts, which was the second-most by a Lobo since 2007. Additionally, his 2.51 ERA is the ninth-lowest in program history.
An All-MW Second Team selection this year, Slaten made nine starts in conference play and pitched at least 6.0 innings in all but one of those starts. Five times Slaten completed 7.0 innings and twice he pitched at least 8.0 innings. In 58.1 innings pitched against MW competition, Slaten racked up 66 strikeouts and posted a 2.16 ERA and a .213 opponent batting average against. In all four categories, Slaten ranked in the top-5 of the conference.
In his first start of the season, Slaten matched up against the defending national champions in Oregon State. Slaten would get a no-decision in that start, but he pitched 5.0 innings and allowed only one hit with five strikeouts. Against the No. 1 overall draft pick this year, Slaten held Adley Rutschman to an 0-for-2 day with two strikeouts.