JJ Matijevic was something of a late bloomer at Arizona, blossoming into a star in his third and final season as a Wildcat.
It was only appropriate, then, that Matijevic had to wait until the very end of the first day of the 2017 MLB draft to hear his name called.
It was worth the wait. The Houston Astros selected Matijevic, the hard-hitting Pac-12 batting champion, with the 75th selection. The pick came at the end of Competitive Balance Round B, which follows the second round. It was the final selection Monday night.
The left-handed-hitting Matijevic led the Pac-12 in multiple offensive categories, including batting average (.383), hits (92), RBIs (65), doubles (30, tying the UA season record), total bases (152) and slugging percentage (.633). He primarily played first base for Arizona but also could get a look at second base or as a corner outfielder.
Matijevic, who’s from North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, was picked in the 22nd round of the 2014 draft by the Boston Red Sox but elected to attend Arizona.
The Astros have the best young team in MLB and lead the majors with a .677 winning percentage.
Matijevic’s UA teammate, outfielder Jared Oliva, is expected to be drafted Tuesday, which comprises Rounds 3-10. Several other Wildcats could be picked before the draft concludes Wednesday.
Arizona signee Matt Sauer, a right-hander from Santa Maria, California, was selected in the second round (54th overall) by the New York Yankees. Given how high he was picked, it’s unlikely Sauer will enroll at the UA. The 54th selection has an approximate pick value of $1.2 million, according to MLB.com.