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Six SoCon players taken on day three of MLB draft
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 06/05/2019
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Samford's Branden Fryman
Courtesy: Southern Conference

Samford's Fryman selected by New York Mets in 2019 MLB Draft

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Samford junior shortstop Branden Fryman was selected by the New York Mets in the 21st round of the Major League Baseball Draft on Wednesday afternoon. He was taken with the 628th overall pick.

Fryman becomes the 28th Samford player to be drafted since head coach Casey Dunn took over the program in 2005, and the 26th over the last nine years. Fryman is the first player off the 2019 team to be selected.

As a junior in 2019, Fryman hit a career-best .323 with seven doubles, four home runs and 29 RBIs. For his Samford career, Fryman has a .290 average with 25 doubles, three triples and 83 RBIs.

Fryman earned first-team All-SoCon honors by the league coaches this season. He was also named second-team All-SoCon by the media.

Colorado Rockies select Samford's Jones in 21st round

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Colorado Rockies selected Samford closer Stephen Jones in the 21st round of the Major League Baseball Draft with the 639th overall pick Wednesday afternoon.

Samford has now had 29 players drafted since head coach Casey Dunn took over the program in 2005, and a total of 27 over the last nine years. Jones is the second player off the 2019 team to be selected, following Branden Fryman by the New York Mets, also in the 21st round.

Jones, who was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2018 draft but decided to return for his senior season, made the transition from starting pitcher to closer in 2019. He led the SoCon with 13 saves, and he posted a 3-0 record and a 2.21 ERA this season.

For his career, Jones has a 14-10 record with 13 saves and a 4.23 ERA. At the conclusion of the 2019 season, Jones was named second-team All-SoCon by both the coaches and the media.

Los Angeles Angles select Samford's Mulrine in 25th round

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Samford junior catcher Anthony Mulrine was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the 25th round of the Major League Baseball Draft with the 751st overall pick Wednesday afternoon.

Mulrine becomes the 30th Samford player to be drafted since head coach Casey Dunn took over the program in 2005, and the 28th over the last nine years. Mulrine is the third player off the 2019 team to be taken in this year's draft. Branden Fryman (Mets) and Stephen Jones (Rockies) were both taken in the 21st round.

In 2019, Mulrine hit .275 with 10 doubles, eight home runs and 30 RBIs. He had a slugging percentage of .440 for the season.

For his Samford career, Mulrine has a .282 batting average. He has 25 doubles, one triple, 20 home runs and 106 RBIs in his three seasons in a Samford uniform.

Samford finished the 2019 season with 41 wins, tying the school record for victories. The Bulldogs earned the program's first Southern Conference regular-season title.

Western Carolina's Koehler, Walter selected on day three of MLB draft

CULLOWHEE, N.C. – Western Carolina had two players selected on the third day of the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, which concluded Wednesday evening. Catamount senior outfielder Matthew Koehler was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 31st round while draft-eligible redshirt sophomore RHP Chase Walter was taken one circuit later as the 32nd-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels.

Koehler was taken with the 944th overall pick on Wednesday, while Walter – who is eligible to return to WCU – was selected with the 961st overall selection. WCU's two draft picks were among nine players from the Southern Conference drafted during the three-day, 40-round event. Regular-season champion Samford led five SoCon schools with a total of three draft picks, while Mercer and WCU had two apiece with UNC Greensboro and VMI securing one apiece.

All told, a combined 1,217 players were selected in the 2019 MLB Draft.

Koehler closed his five-year Western Carolina playing career with his best season in the Purple & Gold. He batted a career-high – and Southern Conference-leading – .361 with 10 doubles, five triples, and 13 home runs to lead the league with a .649 seasonal slugging percentage with 45 RBIs. The Raleigh, North Carolina, product earned first-team All-SoCon plaudits at the season's end, the first of his career. Along the way, he collected Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week honors after homering three times against Conference USA foe Marshall on the road.

Over 199 career games, Koehler made 181 starts and finished with a .292 career batting average with 199 hits including 37 doubles, nine triples, and 23 career homers. His nine triples tied him for ninth in WCU's career record book. He also recorded 41 career stolen bases, a mark that ranks him tied for 16th in the program career ledgers.

After transferring from Spartanburg Methodist prior to the 2018 season, second-year Catamount Chase Walter finished second in the SoCon with 114 strikeouts in 2019 with a team-high five victories (5-6). He was twice dubbed a Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week; doing so after striking out 13 against Mercer on April 13 and punching out a career-high 17 during his second career complete game in a win over Furman in game two of a doubleheader on April 20, also collecting SoCon Pitcher of the Week accolades. Walter's 17 Ks are the third-most recorded in a single game in the NCAA in 2019.

Over the past two seasons, Walter has posted 188 strikeouts in 36 appearances to already rank 19th in WCU program history. He has eight career victories with a save recorded in 2019 against eventual Big Ten champion Ohio State at Fluor Field.

Since Western Carolina head coach Bobby Moranda has been at the helm in Cullowhee, a combined 23 players have been drafted by MLB clubs with three – Jordan Smith (Tigers, 2014), Korey Anderson (Padres, 2017), and Brendan Nail (Red Sox, 2017) – signing free agent contracts to play professional baseball.

Mercer's Coulter drafted by Indians in 33rd round

MACON, Ga. – Mercer senior right-handed pitcher Kevin Coulter was selected by the Cleveland Indians organization in the 33rd round of the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday afternoon.

Coulter, the 1,000th overall selection, was Mercer's second player drafted this year, joining fellow pitcher Sawyer Gipson-Long, who was taken by the Minnesota Twins in the sixth round on Tuesday. Mercer has had 25 draft selections during head coach Craig Gibson's tenure, dating back to 2004.

The Buford, Georgia, native logged nearly 280 innings and posted an 18-11 record with 195 strikeouts during his four-year collegiate career. As a senior this spring, Coulter tossed a team-leading 83 innings over 21 appearances and 12 starts while playing a critical role in Mercer's run to the Southern Conference tournament title and an NCAA Athens Regional berth. The right-hander was 5-3 with a 3.90 ERA and posted 66 strikeouts this season.

Mercer 2019 signee Colby Thomas was also taken on the third day of the MLB Draft. The right-handed outfielder out of Valdosta, Georgia, was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles organization with the first pick of the 37th round (1,098th overall). Thomas is one of nine incoming freshmen in Mercer's 2019 class.

2019 MLB First-Year Player Draft (9 SoCon players selected)
Round Overall Player School Position MLB club
6 179 Sawyer Gipson-Long Mercer RHP Minnesota Twins
9 265 Zak Kent VMI RHP Texas Rangers
10 301 Chad Sykes UNC Greensboro RHP Los Angeles Angels
21 628 Branden Fryman Samford SS New York Mets
21 639 Stephen Jones Samford RHP Colorado Rockies
25 751 Anthony Mulrine Samford C Los Angeles Angels
31 944 Matthew Koehler Western Carolina CF Oakland A's
32 961 Chase Walter Western Carolina RHP Los Angeles Angels
33 1,000 Kevin Coulter Mercer RHP Cleveland Indians
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