Edmonds-Woodway alum Nick Hull (left) and Cascade alum Brett Gillis were both selected on Day 2 of the MLB draft Monday afternoon. (Herald file photos)

Edmonds-Woodway alum Nick Hull (left) and Cascade alum Brett Gillis were both selected on Day 2 of the MLB draft Monday afternoon. (Herald file photos)

2 former Snohomish County prep standouts taken on Day 2 of MLB draft

E-W alum Nick Hull was drafted in the 7th round by the Cubs and Cascade alum Brett Gillis in the 8th round by the Astros.

Nick Hull and Brett Gillis both took long roads to this point.

They both experienced their shares of ups and downs over the course of their college careers.

But on Monday, all their hard work and perseverance paid off.

In back-to-back rounds on Day 2 of the Major League Baseball draft, the pair of 22-year-old pitchers and former Snohomish County high school baseball standouts realized their lifelong dreams.

Hull, a 2017 Edmonds-Woodway alum who pitched five seasons at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, was taken in the seventh round by the Chicago Cubs with the No. 203 overall pick.

Gillis, a 2018 Cascade alum who pitched four seasons at the University of Portland, was drafted shortly afterward. He was selected in the eighth round by the Houston Astros with the No. 283 overall pick.

“There’s definitely been some roadblocks,” Gillis said. “There were some points where I didn’t know if my dream was going to come to reality. And now that it’s happened, it feels just that much better.”

Hull, who took advantage of the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, echoed that sentiment.

“It’s definitely more of a sweet moment when you know that it wasn’t just handed to you and you’ve had to deal with some stuff,” Hull said.

Hull headed to Grand Canyon on the heels of a successful prep career at Edmonds-Woodway.

As a senior with the Warriors in 2017, the right-hander was the ace on an Edmonds-Woodway team that reached the Class 3A state semifinals and earned a fourth-place state finish. He posted a 2.02 earned-run average in 66 innings pitched that year, with 101 strikeouts and just 19 walks.

But his first few college seasons at Grand Canyon were an up-and-down affair. As a freshman and sophomore, he logged a combined 5.65 ERA over 79.2 innings. And as a junior, he pitched just 8.2 innings before the season was canceled because of the pandemic.

“I showed a lot of success, but then I also had a lot of failure,” Hull said. “But you’re not really defined by your failure. It’s mostly how you come back from it.”

Hull said he focused mostly on velocity as a sophomore, but at the expense of his control. It was the opposite the following year, as he improved his control but lost a bit of his velocity.

As a senior in 2021, it all came together. Working entirely out of the bullpen, Hull recorded a 1.77 ERA with 39 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 35.2 innings, while helping Grand Canyon reach the NCAA Tournament.

“That was the best season of my entire life,” Hull said.

However, Hull realized he’d likely have to become a starter in order to get drafted.

“It’s really hard to get (scouts’) attention as a reliever unless you are left-handed, or you’re a closer, or you’re throwing 100 miles an hour,” Hull said. “And I wasn’t any of those things.”

So as a fifth-year graduate student this season, Hull transitioned into a starter and earned the No. 1 spot in Grand Canyon’s rotation.

He had another big season, posting a 3.72 ERA with 102 strikeouts and just 28 walks in 96.2 innings pitched. He received second-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors and helped lead the Antelopes to their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

And ultimately, he caught the eyes of professional teams and was drafted.

“Before I got to college, a lot of things were handed to me,” Hull said. “I wasn’t able to experience this adversity until I got here, which I think kind of set my career timeline back a little bit.

“There’s always some things that you wish you had done differently in your past. But I’m not gonna take those things back now, because in this day I’m where I want to be.”

Gillis, meanwhile, capped his prep career at Cascade by earning Herald All-Area Baseball Player of the Year honors as a senior in 2018.

He posted a 1.25 ERA in 44.2 innings pitched that season, totaling 64 strikeouts and just 18 walks. He also starred as a hitter and a shortstop, batting .500 with 13 extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases. And he led the Bruins to the regular-season Wesco 4A title.

But that success didn’t immediately translate to the college level.

Gillis played sparingly his freshman year at Portland as a two-way pitcher and hitter. His sophomore year was cut short by the pandemic. And as a junior in 2021, he logged a 5.08 ERA in 51.1 innings pitched.

“I was poised to have a pretty good year my sophomore year, but that got ended with COVID,” Gillis said. “And then my junior year, … I was looking forward to getting drafted, and I didn’t really have my best season.”

Gillis said he put a lot of pressure on himself last year as a junior. So this year, he placed an emphasis on having fun. He also dropped hitting and focused solely on being a pitcher. And he worked with assistant coach Connor Lambert on his overall pitching approach.

“Before, I was more of a thrower,” Gillis said. “I kind of became a pitcher this year.”

The result was a spectacular senior season.

Gillis posted a 2.24 ERA in 84.1 innings this spring, racking up 115 strikeouts and just 32 walks. The right-hander struck out 33.1% of the batters he faced and limited opponents to just a .199 batting average. He finished with the 10th-best ERA in Division I and the lowest ERA among any pitcher with at least 80 innings pitched.

Gillis was named the West Coast Conference pitcher of the year, becoming the first player in Portland program history to achieve the feat. He also received second-team All-American honors from both the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings and Collegiate Baseball News.

As their ace, Gillis helped lead the Pilots to one of their best seasons in program history. Portland went 32-23, marking its best record since 2010. That included a program-best 17-10 record in WCC play, which earned the Pilots a best-ever second-place finish in the conference standings.

And with his exceptional senior campaign, Gillis vaulted himself to a top-300 MLB draft pick and landed with a franchise that’s been among the league’s best in recent years.

“It was just really a dream come true — something I’ve been dreaming about my whole life,” Gillis said. “All of that hard work paid off.”

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