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Arizona outfielder Ryan Holgate selected 70th overall by St. Louis Cardinals in 2021 MLB Draft

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Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

Ryan Holgate began his Arizona career with a big bat but also a lot of extra weight. Three years later, he is part of the next crop of Wildcats on the cusp of beginning their pro careers.

Holgate, a left-handed hitting outfielder, was picked 70th overall by the St. Louis Cardinals in the Competitive Balance Round B of the 2021 MLB Draft on Monday. Per MLB.com, that pick has a draft “slot value” of $907,000.

Holgate hit .351 with 11 home runs and 56 RBI for Arizona in 2021, blasting three homers in the postseason including a 2-run shot against Vanderbilt in the College World Series opener. In his career he hit .314 with 19 homers and 101 RBI.

Here’s what Baseball America had to say about Holgate, whom it ranked as the No. 108 draft-eligible prospect in the country:

“Holgate impressed scouts with a solid bat and plus raw power out of high school, but made it to the Arizona campus after the Twins took him in the 32nd round. (His) game is centered around his power, which is at least plus and could be a tick better. He shows plus power to all fields and the ability to handle offspeed pitches.

“While his strikeout rate of just under 20 percent is concerning, he could improve his contact rate by shortening his stroke and staying in his lower half better. Holgate will need to hit because he’s a below-average defender likely limited to left field. He lacks confidence in the field with below-average hands, but has the makeup and work ethic to continue to improve. His fringe-average arm gets good carry, but likely won’t be enough for regular work in right field. A below-average runner, Holgate is athletic enough to run well underway. Teams that are in on him note that Holgate looks like he belongs on the field and he’ll be able to make up for his shortcomings.”

As a freshman the 6-foot-2 Holgate hit just .240, striking out 55 times in 53 games as then-coach Jay Johnson he was trying to “swing for the moon and try to put a hole in the moon.” He refined his swing before the 2020 season, while also slimming down to below 200 pounds, leading to a .377 average in 15 games before COVID shut things down.

In 2021 he earned he was a Pac-12 Honorable Mention selection, finishing with a 10-game hitting streak. He put his name in the NCAA transfer portal after Johnson left for LSU, leaving his options open if the draft didn’t work out as planned.