Baseball: Riordan grad Harlan selected by Pirates in 13th round of MLB Draft

Riordan grad Thomas Harlan was the ace for Fresno State in his senior season and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday. (Photo by Cary Edmondsen/Fresno State Athletics)

By Jeremy Balan

Thomas Harlan’s steady progress from a matchup reliever to top-of-the rotation ace at Fresno State paid off on Tuesday.

Harlan, who graduated from Archbishop Riordan High School in 2008 and just completed his senior season with the Bulldogs, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 13th round (406th overall) of the MLB First-Year Player Draft.

A lanky left-hander listed at 6-foot-6, Harlan started out as a reliever for Fresno State and did not find success in the bullpen. In his freshman year he posted a 7.02 ERA in 16 2/3 innings and in his sophomore season he had a 6.84 ERA in 26 1/3 innings.

Riordan grad Thomas Harlan posted a 2.78 ERA in his senior season at Fresno State. (Keith Kountz/Fresno State Athletics)

Then he worked his way into the starting rotation, made 12 starts in his junior season and lowered his ERA to 3.84, but that was nothing compared to his senior campaign.

Harlan posted a 2.78 ERA this season and led the Bulldogs in innings pitched (106 2/3), games started (16), wins (7) and complete games (2).

Being left-handed certainly aided his draft stock, as did his height and frame, but scouts also likely noticed his improved control. Harlan walked just 16 batters in his senior season at Fresno State and struck out 85.

“I’ve had the opportunity to see him as he’s developed and we thought he had good chance [to get drafted] if he stayed healthy,” said Tom Ledda, who was an assistant coach at Riordan when Harlan played for the Crusaders and is now an assistant at Lowell. “He proved it this year. He was in the pen early as a specialty guy and later on in his college career he proved he could go longer and longer. In his senior year, he was pretty dominant.”

A three-year starter at Riordan, Harlan had a 0.92 ERA and a 7-1 record in his senior season with the Crusaders and a 1.62 ERA in West Catholic Athletic League play. He also led the Crusaders in batting average (.360) in his final high-school season.

Harlan posted a 1.89 ERA as a junior and a 3.34 ERA as a sophomore at Riordan.

“Every time he was on the mound, we thought we had an opportunity to win,” Ledda said. “He’s a big kid and he was throwing in the mid-80s. He beat the best teams in the league throughout his [high-school] career.”

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  1. WCAL Alum says:

    Congratulation to the Riordan (San Bruno native) grad. Plenty of upside. A testament to a kid that played on local municipal teams and whose parents didnt get caught up in travel ball mentality. Didnt hurt being 6′ 5′ and a lefty with a nasty change-up (out of high school).

  2. M Air J says:

    This is great for this young man and also for ARHS. best of luck and hope to see him in the majors in the near future!

  3. wcalsf says:

    Congratulations! Nice to hear to some good news about the Crusaders

  4. City Lights says:

    This is great news. It’s always good to hear about a local going pro at any level. I wish him the best of luck, and hope to see Riordan get back up off the ground. The last few years have been tough on Phelan Ave.

  5. riordan07 says:

    congrats to tom on being drafted by the Pirates! Got to see Tom pitch when I was at Riordan with him. great stuff! wishing you continued success!

  6. Riordan Grad says:

    This is great! Congratulations to you, and Riordan could use someone like him right now.

  7. WCal Fan says:

    Congrats to Tom and the Crusader family! Nice to see good things happen to a local kid and his family. It was great to watch him pitch during his years at Riordan.

  8. Coach says:

    Unlike the Peninsular and the South Bay, we usually dont get kids playing pass High School, but to have one play at a D1 school and get drafted is truly a great story. With the success of SI this year, and Riordan’s new coaching staff, maybe the trend is changing. We have the athletes here, they just need the opportunity and exposure.

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