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Eleven SoCon baseball players drafted Wednesday
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 06/14/2017
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Courtesy: Southern Conference
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The Citadel's JP Sears drafted by Seattle in 11th round

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Citadel baseball's left-handed pitcher JP Sears was drafted 333rd overall by the Seattle Mariners in the 11th round of the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday.

Sears becomes the 50th Bulldog to be drafted since 1965 and the first since 2015 when The Citadel had three players drafted. He is the 14th Bulldog to be drafted in the first 11 rounds. Sears is the second player in program history drafted by the Mariners after T.A. Fulmer was selected by Seattle in the 13th round in 2002.

The Citadel southpaw has had one of the best pitching seasons in program history, receiving numerous national awards. Sears has already been selected a second-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, a third-team member by Baseball America and a member of the fourth team by College Sports Madness with more awards potentially to come.

Sears was also named a semifinalist for USA Baseball's Golden Spikes award on May 31. He continues to lead the nation in strikeouts with 142 and ranks third in strikeouts per nine innings with 13.41 despite not having pitched in three weeks. He was selected the Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year after finishing the regular season with a 7-2 record and 2.03 earned run average.

 

ETSU's Hagen Owenby taken in 12th round by Atlanta

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – ETSU junior catcher Hagen Owenby was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 12th round of the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday. Owenby was the 350th overall pick.

This marked the second straight year Owenby heard his named called, as the Buccaneer All-American was drafted in the 14th round (435th pick) by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016.

Owenby – who started all 59 games for the Blue and Gold in 2017 – hit .346 (81-for-234) with 12 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 40 walks, 54 runs and 51 RBIs. The Knoxville, Tenn., native registered .573 slugging and .438 on-base percentages – both marking team bests. The Buccaneer slugger also led the team in home runs, walks and RBI. Owenby – a two-time first team All-Southern Conference selection – ranked second in the SoCon in walks, fourth in total bases (134), tied for fourth in home runs, ranked sixth in on-base percentage, tied for seventh in runs, ranked eighth in hits, and ninth in RBI and slugging percentage. Owenby reached base in 23 straight games from Feb. 19-April 2 and reached base safely in 55 of the 59 games this season.

Owenby won the TD Ameritrade Home Run Derby last July en route to becoming the second Buccaneer to claim the honor.

 

Samford's Williams Jr., Dixon drafted Wednesday

SECAUCUS, N.J. – Samford's Kevin Williams Jr., was selected by the Los Angeles Angels with the 10th pick in the 13th round (385th overall) of the Major League Baseball Draft on Wednesday and T.J. Dixon was selected by the Minnesota Twins with the first pick in the 24th round (706th overall) as the Bulldogs' number of drafted players continues to grow under head coach Casey Dunn.

Samford boasts seven top-10 round picks since 2012 and has had 22 players drafted in the last seven years. Since Dunn took the reins in 2005, the Bulldogs have had a total of 24 players selected in the MLB Draft. Prior to Dunn's arrival, Samford only had a total of three players drafted.

Williams Jr. concluded his junior season at Samford with a team-leading 11 home runs. The Bulldogs' speedy outfielder also added 34 RBIs, 13 doubles and 37 runs scored. Williams started 58 games of the season and played a key role in Samford's 33-26 final record.

Dixon will go down in Samford lore as one of the best outfielders in school history. The Bulldogs' speedy center fielder and leadoff specialist set the school's all-time record in runs with 188, as well as games played with 231. He started in 226 games of his illustrious Samford career.

As one of the most decorated players in Bulldog history, Dixon closed out the 2017 campaign as the Southern Conference's active career leader in stolen bases, triples, runs, hits, walks and games played and was ranked fifth in doubles.

This year, he turned in the best season of his career and tallied a .326 batting average with 48 runs, 41 RBIs and a .417 slugging percentage. The 2014 Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American also registered a team-high 23 stolen bases, which ranked second in the SoCon.

 

UNCG's Maynard, Spitznagel drafted

SECAUCUS, N.J. – UNCG had two players drafted in the Major League Baseball Draft on Wednesday afternoon.  The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Jack Maynard in the 21st round, with the Oakland Athletics drafting Ben Spitznagel in the 27th round.

This marks the 14th consecutive season that at least one Spartan was taken in the MLB Draft. Maynard becomes the 18th pitcher out of UNCG, while Spitznagel is the 14th position player.

Maynard served as the Friday night starter before becoming one of the top arms out of the bullpen.  Maynard turned in 23 appearances and made seven starts in his junior season.  Maynard was the primary strikeout pitcher on a Spartan pitching staff that struck out 487 hitters, second-best in program history. The junior college transfer worked in 68.0 innings, tying for the team high with 80 strikeouts.  In 16 bullpen appearances, Maynard earned a 1.77 ERA in 35 2/3 innings, earning three saves.  He struck out 46 hitters and held opponents to a .205 batting average. 

Spitznagel finishes his UNCG career as one of the best hitters in program history.  The Cincinnati, Ohio, native earned a .371 career batting average, ranking second all-time among hitters who have moved on from the program.  A two-time second-team All-Southern Conference selection, Spitznagel was a third-team ABCA/Rawlings All-American at second base as a junior. He hit as the leadoff hitter in 90 of 113 games played at UNCG.  A constant threat at the plate, he struck out just 40 times in 458 at bats and his 95 hits in 2016 is third-best in a season in program history.  Spitznagel served as a captain of the 2017 Southern Conference champion UNCG team. 

 

Western Carolina's Pope taken by Pittsburgh in 22nd round

CULLOWHEE, N.C. – Western Carolina junior infielder Brett Pope was selected in the 22nd round by the Pittsburgh Pirates during Wednesday's final round of the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Pope was one of two Catamounts drafted, joining senior LHP Bryan Sammons, who was taken on the second day in the eighth round by the Minnesota Twins.

With two selections, this year marked the 16th time since 1977 that Western Carolina had multiple players selected within the same MLB First-Year Player Draft.

Pope started every game that he played in his WCU career – 138-of-138 – missing a chunk of his sophomore season in 2016 due to a wrist injury suffered on a HBP in the three-game series sweep at Kansas State. He returned to the lineup near the end of the tournament-championship season in 2016, collecting NCAA Clemson Regional All-Tournament team honors. He was a second team All-Southern Conference selection in 2017, garnering the honor by both the league's head coaches and the voting media.

Last season, Pope finished tied for the team-lead – and tied for third overall in the SoCon – with 83 base hits. He paced the Catamount squad with 27 multiple-hit games with multiple-RBIs eight times. He posted single-season career bests with 12 doubles, three triples and his first four home runs to boost his career totals to 21 doubles and five triples. Pope drove in a career-high 28 runs to give him 61 over the past three seasons.

 

Three Mercer players selected on day three of draft

MACON, Ga. – Mercer saw three Bears selected on the final day of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft Wednesday, as Charlie Madden, Danny Edgeworth and Ryan Askew had their names called.

The Colorado Rockies selected Edgeworth in the 23rd round (686th pick); the Boston Red Sox selected Madden in the 24th round (731th pick); and the Tampa Bay Rays selected Askew in the 29th round (859th pick).

All three draftees were seniors and pushed the total number of MLB draftees during head coach Craig Gibson's tenure to 19 since 2004. The three-man draft class marks the fourth time in program history that Mercer has had at least three draftees in a single season (2011, 1990, 1983).

Edgeworth earned All-SoCon first team (coaches) honors this spring by batting .332 with 71 hits, including 23 extra-base hits and eight home runs. He was hitting upwards of .392 as late as mid-April and additionally made a seamless transition from the hot corner to second base early in the year. He joins infielder Jacob Tanis (2010) as the only Bears drafted by Colorado. Tanis did not sign, however.

Madden, a native of Dunwoody, Georgia, turned in an impressive senior campaign highlighted by career-bests of 17 home runs and 56 runs batted in. He was nearly flawless behind the dish defensively, owning a .992 fielding percentage. Madden started over 200 games and totaled 40 home runs over his four-year career.

This is the second time in as many years Madden has been selected in the MLB Draft. The Chicago White Sox drafted him in the 25th round last year but he did not sign, instead opting to return to school and help Mercer claim its third consecutive Southern Conference regular-season title and the second most wins (39) in program history. One other Bear – Brantley New (2006) – has been drafted by Boston.

Askew, the Bears' third draftee, went 4-2 as the Friday starter and logged a team-best 83 2/3 innings on the mound this spring. The 6-foot-6 right-hander issued only nine walks in 14 starts and ranked fifth nationally with 0.97 walks per nine innings. He is a former All-SoCon second-team selection (2016) and started 50 games while logging 200 strikeouts and 17 victories in his career.

 

VMI's Maddox selected in 33rd round by San Francisco

SECAUCUS, N.J. – VMI catcher Peyton Maddox was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the 33rd round of the MLB Draft, which was held via conference call Wednesday. It is the second time in three years that the Giants have selected a VMI catcher, as San Francisco chose Matt Winn in the 2015 draft.

Maddox, who just wrapped up his junior year, was on this year's Johnny Bench Award Watch List, and he hit .291 with eight homers and was among the SoCon leaders in doubles with 16. He becomes the first Keydet underclassman position player selected in the draft since Tanner Biagini was picked by the Oakland A's in the 50th round of the 2009 draft, and if he opts to return to school, would be the first Keydet at any position to forego a selection since Biagini.

Maddox's selection means that VMI continues an impressive program streak, as the last time the Keydets failed to have a player chosen in back-to-back seasons was in the 2001-2002 campaigns.

 

 

RoundPickNameSchoolPos.Team
11 333 JP Sears The Citadel LHP Seattle Mariners
12 350 Hagen Owenby ETSU C Atlanta Braves
13 385 Kevin Williams Jr. Samford OF Los Angeles Angels
21 622 Jack Maynard UNCG RHP Arizona Diamondbacks
22 658 Brett Pope Western Carolina SS Pittsburgh Pirates
23 686 Danny Edgeworth Mercer 3B Colorado Rockies
24 706 T.J. Dixon Samford OF Minnesota Twins
24 731 Charlie Madden Mercer C Boston Red Sox
27 801 Ben Spitznagel UNCG OF Oakland Athletics
29 859 Ryan Askew Mercer RHP Tampa Bay Rays
33 996 Peyton Maddox VMI C San Francisco Giants
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