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Draft Roundup: Five ‘Hoos, two Dukes, lead local MLB Draft selections

Five Virginia baseball players were selected Tuesday in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Rounds two through 30 were conducted Tuesday; Virginia’s Danny Hultzen (Jr., Bethesda, Md.) was selected in the first round Monday.

Virginia had three of its starting pitchers selected in the first 10 rounds, as Will Roberts (Jr., Richmond, Va.) and Tyler Wilson (Sr., Midlothian, Va.) joined Hultzen. Roberts was a fifth-round selection (158th overall) of the Cleveland Indians, while Tyler Wilson was a 10th-round pick (305th overall) by the Baltimore Orioles.

John Hicks (Jr., Sandy Hook, Va.) and Steven Proscia (Jr., Suffern, N.Y.) each were selected by the Seattle Mariners. Hicks was picked in the fourth round (123rd overall) and Proscia in the seventh round (213th overall). The two will join Hultzen in the Mariners organization.

Kenny Swab (Sr., Kernersville, N.C.) was selected in the 21st round (636th) by the Kansas City Royals.

Hicks was a Collegiate Baseball Third-Team All-American this year and also was a First-Team All-ACC selection as well as a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award. He has posted a big year at the plate, batting .339, which ranks 11th in the ACC. He also has 84 hits, which is fourth in the ACC. Hicks ranks in the ACC’s top 10 in hits (84, 4th), doubles (21, T4th), total bases (128, 6th), RBI (54, 8th). Hicks is third in Virginia history with 54 doubles and ninth in career runs (160). He currently has 237 career hits – 10th in UVa history.

Roberts has been brilliant on the mound for Virginia this year, going 11-1 with a 1.61 ERA. In 95 innings he has allowed just 17 earned runs, 67 hits and 12 walks while striking out 90. Batters are hitting.204 against him. He ranks among the ACC leaders in shutouts (3, T1st), complete games (3, 2nd), ERA (1.61, 2nd), wins (11, 3rd) and opponent batting average (.204, 7th).

Roberts tossed the eighth nine-inning complete game in NCAA Division I history on March 29 when he retired 27 straight George Washington batters. He also had a streak of 26.2 straight scoreless innings earlier this year.

Proscia was a First-Team All-ACC pick this year. He ranks among the ACC’s leaders in batting (.341, 8th), hits (85, 3rd), doubles (19, T8th), RBI (58, T3rd) and total bases (130, 3rd). Proscia holds a school-record 181 career RBI and also boasts 251 career hits, which ranks seventh in Virginia history. He owns 59 career doubles, which is second in the Virginia career annals, and has 28 career homers, which is tied for sixth at UVa.

A 2011 Second-Team All-ACC selection, Wilson is 8-0 with a 2.34 ERA in 14 starts (16 appearances) this year. In 88.1 innings he has allowed just 62 hits and 21 walks with 111 strikeouts (fifth most in ACC, fifth in UVa single-season history). Batters are hitting .197 against him this year. That is third lowest in the ACC.

He now owns 25 career wins, which is third in Virginia history (25-7, 2.93 ERA career). He ranks fourth in career pitching appearances at UVa with 88 (17 starts) and has racked up 254 career strikeouts, which ranks fourth in UVa history. He also is a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.

Swab has hit .306 this season and was named to the ACC All-Tournament team after batting .438 (7-for-16) as the Cavaliers won the conference crown. In 52 games (49 starts), he has hit 16 doubles and a pair of triples while driving in 26 runs. He ranks second on the team with a .427 on base percentage and is tied for the team lead with 11 stolen bases.


 
James Madison junior catcher Jake Lowery (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) was selected in the fourth round, pick number 128 overall, by the Cleveland Indians during the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday afternoon.

“It was really neat,” said Lowery of hearing his name. “The guy called me in the third round to see if everything was O.K. and if he could take me in the next round. Obviously I said ‘of course.’ It was cool to hear my name on the radio coverage. I had an idea it would be top 10 rounds but fourth round was really cool. I talked to three teams in the last few days, who making sure everything was good and if I would sign if selected. Cleveland didn’t call me the last few days but had called in the last week.”

The 11th catcher selected in 2011, Lowery is the 12th-highest draft selection in JMU history and the 57th overall for the program. He is the highest pick since former teammate Kevin Munson went 121st last year to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He joins other fourth-round picks Kurt Isenberg (110, 2001-03), Munson (121, 2008-10), Eddie Kim (122, 2000-03) and Doug Harris (124, 1988-90). He is JMU’s highest position player pick since Kellen Kulbacki went in the supplemental first round in 2007. Lowery is also the third JMU player to be picked by Cleveland, joining Scott Mackie (7th, 1985-87) and Mike Butia (5th, 2002-04).

“We’re very happy for him and wish him all the best,” commented JMU head coach Spanky McFarland. “To be honest, most college hitters will go through a couple bad weeks or bad games here and there. He had the occasional bad game, but he never did go through any kind of slump. He was pretty consistent through the whole year. He was everything you wanted in a player, consistent, very good and you knew what you were going to get. Even if he did have a bad day, he would bounce back. Towards the end of the season people would pitch around him. It was quite a season. We haven’t seen anybody do anything like that since Kellen [Kulbacki]. Obviously we’re going to miss him.”

It was a busy 48 hours for Lowery, who Sunday was named to the All-Regional Team in Chapel Hill as JMU ended its season as the regional runner-up. He led all players in the regional with eight RBIs and two home runs as he matched the JMU season record with his 24th long ball.

Late Monday, Lowery was announced as one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s best catcher. He will travel along with fellow finalists Chris O’Brien (Wichita State) and Mike Zunino (Florida) to the 14th Annual Greater Wichita Area Sports Banquet on June 30 for the formal presentation of the award to be presented by Johnny Bench.

Lowery finished one of the most dominant offensive seasons in JMU history batting .359 with 22 doubles, eight triples, 24 home runs, 91 RBIs, 80 runs scored, 200 total bases and a .797 slugging percentage. He set or matched JMU and CAA records for RBIs, home runs, extra-base hits (54) and total bases in a season. He also finished fourth in CAA history with 80 runs and seventh for slugging percentage.

Through the completion of the NCAA regional round, Lowery leads the nation in runs (80), RBIs (91) and total bases (200). He is second in slugging percentage (.797), fourth in on-base plus slugging (1.239), second in home runs (24) and fourth in triples (8). Not to be overlooked defensively, Lowery ranked second in the nation prior to regionals for runners caught stealing.

In addition to being a Johnny Bench finalist, Lowery was one of 30 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award and one of 36 on the watch list for the Dick Howser Trophy, both given to the nation’s top player. Collegiate Baseball newspaper bestowed upon Lowery the fourth First Team All-America honor in JMU history. He was the CAA Player of the Year, First Team All-CAA and selected to the CAA All-Tournament Team.

Lowery, who was at home with his mom and dad when the selection occurred, acknowledged the significance of his huge junior season, “Obviously it’s huge. I knew I needed to have a big year and I came through with everything and more, especially the way the team finished getting to regionals. That helped my stock a little to get to regionals and face that kind of pitching.”


 
James Madison senior shortstop David Herbek (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) was chosen with the 471st overall pick in the 15th round by the Chicago White Sox in the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday afternoon.

Herbek said of his selection, “I was actually taking a nap so I wasn’t listening to it. I received a few text messages before I got the call so I figured ‘I guess I got picked.’

Herbek is the 58th overall draftee in program history and 31st to be picked in the first 15 rounds. He joins teammate Jake Lowery as 2011 draftees after Lowery was picked in the fourth round by the Cleveland Indians with pick 128 overall. Herbek is the second player in JMU history to be selected by Chicago, joining 2003 40th-round catcher Matt Deuchler. Greg Bulheller (1993-94, 1996) also signed with Chicago as a free agent.

“David’s a great story,” commented head coach Spanky McFarland. “He walked on and earned a starting spot halfway through his freshman year and kept getting better and better. He’s one of only a few guys to win two CAA Championships in JMU history. He’s a great leader and I’m so happy for him. It’s a great story to walk on and work hard and improve enough to be a 15th rounder. I couldn’t be happier.”

Collegiate Baseball newspaper selected Herbek as a Second Team All-American. He was named with Lowery to the 36-player watch list for the Dick Howser Trophy awarded to the nation’s best player. He was also among 25 semifinalists for the Brooks Wallace Award for the nation’s best shortstop.

In his senior season, Herbek led JMU with a .362 batting average. He posted 83 hits, including 20 doubles and 15 home runs. He scored 56 runs and drove in 76 while posting a .672 slugging percentage and .443 on-base percentage. His RBI total is second in JMU history behind only the 91 posted by Lowery this season. He also ranks eighth for season doubles, seventh for season total bases (154), fourth for hit by pitches (17), first for season sacrifice flies (10) and 10th for assists (158).

For his four-year career, Herbek started 191 games and hit .341 with a .589 slugging percentage and a .952 fielding percentage, all at shortstop. He holds the JMU career records for hit by pitches (55, also CAA record) and sacrifice flies (25). He also ranks seventh in career at bats (745), sixth in games played (210), 10th in hits (254), sixth in runs (189), fourth in RBIs (195), second in doubles (62), sixth in home runs (35), fourth in total bases (439) and sixth in assists (506).

Once he realized that he would be in the same division as teammate Jake Lowery, Herbek said, “Hopefully I get to face him down the road and I can get some stolen bases.”


 
Longwood University baseball standout Mark Montgomery|Williamsburg (Bruton) was selected by the New York Yankees in the 11th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft Tuesday during the second day of the three-day, 50-round amateur draft.

The 6-0, 205-pound right-handed pitcher was 1-0 with 10 saves and a 0.89 earned run average in 22 appearances, including 30.1 innings and 48 strikeouts (14.24) as a junior closer with the Lancers during 2011. Montgomery, the 359th overall selection, becomes only the ninth Longwood Baseball player to ever be drafted. Mark is the son of Glenna and Ron Montgomery.

“We’re thrilled at Mark being drafted by the New York Yankees,” said 33rd-year Longwood head coach Charles Buddy Bolding. “It’s the premier organization in professional baseball and they have a great reputation at developing pitchers. He should have the opportunity to advance rapidly through their organization.”

Montgomery established new Longwood season-records for era (0.89), saves (10), and fewest hits allowed (12-3.56, per nine innings) during 2011. He yielded just four runs, three earned, while limiting opponents to a .120 batting average with only 10 walks (2.97) and no home runs allowed. Montgomery led the pitching staff in appearances, games in relief, era, saves, strikeouts, opponent batting average, games finished (21), and batters struck out looking (16). Throughout his three-year, 64-appearance career at Longwood, Montgomery was 7-6 with 16 saves and a 3.79 era over 128.1 innings with 157 strikeouts (11.01). He owns the school-record for career saves (16), while ranking sixth in era (3.79).

Montgomery has recently made two appearances with the Peninsula Pilots of the Coastal Plain League (CPL), earning two saves over 2.0 innings with five strikeouts while allowing one hit with one walk. Last summer, he was a 2010 CPL All-Star and Rawlings Defensive Player of the Game, playing for Edenton, North Carolina (26 appearances, 1-2, 12 saves, 2.57 era, 28.0 innings, 54 strikeouts (17.36). Montgomery was ranked the 8th-best prospect in 2010 CPL by Baseball America magazine.

Other previous Longwood draft selections include Frankie Watson (7th round) and Kelvin Davis (24th round) in 1988 by Kansas City, Michael Tucker (1st round, #10 overall) and Scott Abell (37th round) in 1992 by Kansas City, LaRon Wilson (17th round) in 2002 by the New York Mets, Jeremy Knicely (42nd round) in 2003 by Toronto, Charlie Yarbrough (7th round) in 2006 by Philadelphia, and Phil Cerreto (40th round) in 2010 by St. Louis.

Longwood finished 2011 with a record of 28-18, attaining its 30th overall 20-win campaign, and 23rd season with at least 25 wins in the program’s 34-year history. Veteran coach Bolding is now 900-495-4, including 30 winning seasons during his tenure as mentor of the tradition-rich program, earning his 900th collegiate coaching victory on May 10 during a 6-4 road win at James Madison.


 
Former Keydet shortstop Sam Roberts (Prince George, Va.) has been drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 26th round of the Major League Baseball draft, which took place Tuesday via conference call.

“I’m very excited, and this is a great feeling,” said Roberts. “I actually didn’t know until my brother (former Keydet Mike) called me, and then the Oakland scout called five minutes later. I had some contact with Oakland, but didn’t know they would take me there. I’m very glad to be going to a system with a VMI player in it, and the Athletics have obviously been pleased with the success they’ve had taking VMI players in the past.”

Roberts left VMI as the program’s all-time leader in hits, walks and runs scored, concluding his career by playing 194 straight games, which ranked as the ninth-longest streak in Division I at the time. He was First Team All-Big South this past season, as well as a two-time conference Player of the Week. He also earned an ECAC Player of the Week honor and was tabbed for the College Baseball Hall of Fame’s All-Star Lineup on another occasion.

On the mound, he spent time as both a starter and reliever, and left Lexington tied for eighth on the program’s career saves list. Roberts was initially announced as a pitcher during the draft, but that designation was planned to be switched to shortstop during Oakland’s next pick.

This marks the seventh straight year in which VMI has had a player selected in the MLB draft, and the third time in four years that a player was chosen by Oakland. Trey Barham, a 25th round pick of the Athletics in the 2008 draft, remains in the team’s system and is currently pitching for Double-A Midland.