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OVC has dozen players worthy of Major picks

OVC has dozen players worthy of Major picks

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 12:00 pm

The Ohio Valley Conference saw 12 players selected in the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Overall, seven of the 10 OVC baseball-playing institutions had at least one player selected and Jacksonville State led the way with three selections. The 12 selections were just one off the record of 13 selections in 2010.
Eastern Kentucky shortstop Richie Rodriguez (selected as a second baseman) was the first OVC player selected, going in the 9th round to the New York Mets (No. 290 overall). The only other OVC player to be drafted in the Top 10 rounds was Jacksonville State first baseman Ben Waldrip, who went No. 318 overall (10th round) to the Colorado Rockies.
Ten players were selected on the third day, starting with UT Martin pitcher Alec Mills (22nd Round, No. 673) by the Kansas City Royals. He was followed by Southeast Missouri pitcher Shae Simmons (22nd Round, No. 689) by the Atlanta Braves, Eastern Illinois shortstop Ryan Dineen by the Houston Astros (25th Round, No. 759), Jacksonville State catcher Sam Eberle by the San Francisco Giants (25th Round, No. 778), Austin Peay pitcher Zach Toney by the Chicago White Sox (26th round, No. 809) and OVC Player of the Year Trenton Moses by the Atlanta Braves (26th Round, No. 809).
The draft selections were rounded out by Austin Peay outfielder Michael Blanchard by the San Francisco Giants (30th Round, No. 928), Eastern Kentucky closer Anthony Bazzani by the Baltimore Orioles (31st Round, No. 942), Tennessee Tech pitcher Matthew Shepherd by the San Diego Padres (31st Round, No. 945) and Jacksonville State pitcher Daniel Watts by the Arizona Diamondbacks (32nd Round, No. 993).
Rodriguez, the 10th EKU baseball player to be drafted since 2002, started 216 consecutive games at shortstop for EKU, every game of his decorated career. The native of Miami, Fla. recently concluded that career by leading EKU to a share of its first OVC regular season title and being named a first team All-OVC selection, a Louisville Slugger third team All-American and a semifinalist for the prestigious Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award.
The durable leadoff man, who tied a school record with three home runs in a game against Indiana State on March 4 and hit for the cycle in a game against UT Martin on May 5, batted .377 this season and led the Colonels in almost every major offensive category, including home runs (14), runs (59), hits (80), doubles (18), total bases (146), walks (33), slugging percentage (.689) and on-base percentage (.469).
Waldrip became the 12th player in Jacksonville State history to be drafted in the Top 10 rounds and the 23rd player in Gamecock history to be taken in the Top 15 rounds.
He garnered All-Ohio Valley Conference first-team honors for the second time in as many years for the Gamecocks during the 2012 season. The lefty with a 6-foot-6, 245-pound frame belted 18 home runs and drove in 61 RBI to lead the Gamecocks in 2012. His 18 home runs and his 0.34 home runs per game both rank fourth in all of Division I baseball, while his 1.15 RBI per game ranks 10th nationally. Waldrip finished the season batting .330 on the year, and he ranked fifth in the OVC with a .393 batting average in OVC play.
Waldrip was also drafted after his junior season in 2011 (40th round/Kansas City) and in 2010 (42nd round/Atlanta).
In his first season as a full-time starter, Mills compiled a team-high 14 starts and ranked third in the OVC in innings pitched per nine innings (6.36).
A second-team All-Ohio Valley Conference honoree this year, Simmons went 7-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 15 starts this season.
He led the Redhawks in wins, strikeouts (89) and innings pitched (82.0). Simmons, who appeared in 10 games as Southeast’s No. 2 starter, led the OVC in strikeouts with nearly 10 per contest.
Dineen recently finished his junior campaign, posting a .335 batting average, the second highest mark on the team. He scored 37 runs this season to go along with nine doubles, seven home runs and 36 RBI. Dineen was also 15-for-23 in stolen bases in 57 games played (56 starts).
Eberle led the OVC with a .434 batting average in league-only games, including an OVC-best 43 hits, 34 runs scored and a .548 on-base percentage.
He was a three-time OVC All-Tournament pick, while also earning All-OVC honors in 2011. The Chattanooga native is Jacksonville State’s all-time career leader with 62 doubles, just three shy of the OVC record. He also ranks second on JSU’s all-time hits list with 273.
Toney was a first-team All-OVC selection and completed his senior campaign with the Govs with a 5-3 record and 3.10 ERA.
Moses, who was recently named a second-team Louisville Slugger All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, was the 2012 OVC Player of the Year and became just the third player in conference history to win that prestigious award in multiple seasons.
He led the league in batting average (.408), home runs (19), on-base percentage (.531) and slugging percentage (.761) this year. Moses led the nation in both slugging and on-base percentage, as well.
Blanchard was a second-team All-OVC honoree this year as he batted .290 with a .405 on-base percentage while batting in the leadoff spot for most of the 2012 campaign. Blanchard was particularly dangerous when bunting, recording 22 bunt base hits.
Bazzani was instrumental as the closer on this year’s Ohio Valley Conference regular season co-champion EKU baseball team. With his fastball hovering around the mid-90s, Bazzani led the Colonel pitching staff with 27 appearances, compiling a record of 1-1 with a 3.40 ERA and eight saves. Five of those saves came against OVC competition, as the Colonels compiled a school-record 19 conference wins. Opposing batters hit just .268 against the hard-throwing righthander.
Shepherd made 15 appearances, 12 starts, for the Golden Eagles this season. He won four games and struck out 61 batters in 75.0 innings of work.
Watts made 15 starts in 2012 and tied for the team lead with six wins, while posting a 4.35 earned run average. The lefthander led the team with 89.0 innings pitched, where he allowed 33 earned runs with a team-best 87 strikeouts to just 23 walks. The opponents hit just .250 against the lefty. The LaGrange, Ga., native had one his best pitching performances of the season in the OVC Tournament, where he allowed just one hit in six innings on the mound and tied the OVC Tournament record and his career-high with 11 strikeouts to earn a 12-5 win over the Eagles. Published in The WCP 6.12.12

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