MLB Draft Roundup: Updates on UVa., VMI and JMU players selected

UVa.’s Halley taken in 20th Virginia senior right-handed pitcher Shane Halley (Burke, Va.) was selected Wednesday by the Kansas City Royals in the 20th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Halley was picked with the 613th pick overall.

Halley is the fourth Cavalier to be selected in the draft this year; he joins Branden Kline (Jr., Frederick, Md.), Chris Taylor (Jr., Virginia Beach, Va.) and Stephen Bruno (R-So., Audubon, N.J.). Kline was a second-round selection (65th overall) by the Baltimore Orioles. Taylor was picked in the fifth round (161st overall) by the Seattle Mariners, and Bruno was selected in the seventh round (224th overall) by the Chicago Cubs.

UVa has had 10 players selected in the top 10 rounds over the last three years and 21 total players overall over the past three seasons.

Halley had a strong senior year, going 9-2 with a 2.15 ERA in 22 appearances, including three starts. While working a career-best 50.1 innings, Halley allowed only 32 hits and limited his opponents to a .183 batting average. He yielded only eight extra-base hits. Six of his nine wins came in ACC play; that amounted to one-third of the Cavaliers’ wins in conference play.

 

VMI’s Lopez goes in 21st Former VMI right-handed pitcher Adam Lopez (Fredericksburg, Va./Stafford) has been drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 21st round of the Major League Baseball draft, which took place Wednesday via conference call.

“It’s really, simply, a huge blessing,” said Lopez. “It wasn’t easy going from a much bigger prospect to not having anyone looking at you. I’m just happy that I’m getting the chance of a lifetime to live out my dream. The funny thing is, I didn’t realize I had been drafted until I received a congratulations text from Mike Devine. My house has awful cell service, so the White Sox call never came through, and when Mike’s text came through, my heart jumped. Sure enough, the White Sox grabbed me. It’s a dream turned reality.”

“We are very happy for Adam,” said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. “After what he’s gone through the past two years, this is an awesome opportunity. He has worked very hard coming off his injury, and we are very, very proud of him!”

Lopez’s best year at the Institute came in 2010, when he ranked fourth in the Big South in strikeouts with 89. His strikeouts per nine inning rate of 11.13 was the third-best in VMI history, and it was also the school’s fourth-most strikeouts in a single season. His 11 strikeouts against Maryland-Eastern Shore on March 5 of that year still stands as VMI’s last double-digit strikeout game. Early in the 2011 season, Lopez suffered an arm injury that would eventually lead to elbow surgery, but he returned in 2012 and was the winning pitcher in VMI’s season-ending win at VCU May 18.

This marks the eighth straight year in which VMI has had at least one player selected in the MLB amateur draft, and Lopez is the first player in Keydet history to be chosen by the White Sox.

 

Keydets’ Cowgill drafted in 23rd VMI junior right-handed pitcher Coby Cowgill (Norfolk, Va./Maury) has been chosen by the Texas Rangers in the 23rd round of the Major League Baseball draft, which took place Wednesday via conference call.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to fulfill my lifelong dream,” said Cowgill. “Another team actually called me shortly before the Rangers and said they were going to take me first, but that fell through and Texas snapped me up. I want to thank all of VMI, and all of my coaches, for everything that they’ve done. I am looking forward to what my future holds.”

“We’re very excited for this opportunity that Coby has,” said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. “His hard work for the past three seasons has allowed him to achieve his dream and become a pro.”

Cowgill emerged as a weekend force for the Keydets in 2011, when he ranked 10th in the Big South in ERA and fourth in batting average against. This season, he hurled 17 straight innings without an earned run to start the year, including seven innings at the two-time defending College World Series Champion South Carolina Gamecocks in VMI’s narrow 2-1 loss to open the year. He also posted nine strikeouts against Hartford March 3, tied for the most by a Keydet hurler this year, and combined on VMI’s lone shutout of the campaign, a blanking of Lafayette Feb. 24.

With the earlier selection of Adam Lopez (21st round, White Sox), VMI has now seen two players selected in the MLB draft for the first time since 2009. It marks the seventh time overall that multiple Keydets have been chosen, and Cowgill is the second Keydet to be tabbed by the Rangers, joining Ryan Glynn, who was selected in 1995 and remains the only VMI player to reach the major leagues.

 

JMU’s Brown goes to Indians For the second straight year, Cleveland called upon a member of the James Madison Diamond Dukes as the Indians selected junior right-handed pitcher D.J. Brown (Locust Grove, Va./Orange) in the 39th round on Wednesday’s third day of the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Brown, who was selected with overall pick number 1,193, is the 67th player in JMU history to be picked in the MLB Draft.  He joins his former catcher and teammate, Jake Lowery (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) as fellow Indians’ selections in consecutive years.  Lowery was a fourth-round pick of Cleveland in 2011.  He is the fourth player in program history taken by the Indians, joining Lowery, 2004 outfielder Mike Butia and 1987 standout Scott Mackie.

“I had turned on the draft online and was just sitting and looking for some of our teammates to be drafted,” commented Brown of his memorable moment Wednesday.  “It was kind of a shock.  I had to read over it a few times to make sure it was my name.  Then I called Conner [Brown], my roommate, to come look at it.  I didn’t know if it was real.”

The selection by the Indians came as a surprise to Brown primarily because he missed the entire 2012 season due to an injury suffered in the Fall.  His injury was one of numerous setbacks for a JMU squad that finished 16-35-2 in 2012.  The 6-foot, 6-inch righty figured to be the centerpiece of the Dukes’ staff after factoring heavily into Madison’s 2011 CAA championship season.

As a sophomore, Brown was instrumental in JMU’s postseason run with a team-best 96 2/3 innings (18 percent of team’s total) on the mound.  He went 9-1 with four saves and a 4.00 ERA while opening the season as a starter before ending in dominant fashion as the team’s closer.  He struck out 92 batters compared to 30 walks and posted a team-best .245 opponent batting average.  As a closer, he worked both short and long outings, highlighted by his 7 1/3 inning relief effort as JMU rallied past FIU, 11-7, in the opening game of the 2011 NCAA Chapel Hill Regional.

Winner of the program’s Relief Pitcher Award, Brown ranked 47th nationally with his nine victories and 65th with his 92 strikeouts.  He ranked ninth in JMU history for season wins, seventh for season innings and sixth for season strikeouts.  He also ranked eighth in the CAA for opponent average, second in innings, fourth in Ks, second in wins and 15th in appearances.

Brown spent much of his freshman campaign in 2010 as a starter in the weekend rotation.  He finished 4-3 with 41 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings.

With his injury, Brown still has two years of eligibility remaining at JMU.  He said of his upcoming decision whether to leave the Dukes and turn pro, “[Cleveland] is supposed to call me by this weekend. I’ll let them know if I’m interested or not and we’ll have a few weeks to figure it out.”

Teams have until 5 p.m. Eastern Time on July 13 to sign players selected in the draft.  The deadline is a change from previous years, which featured a mid-August decision date.

Whether or not he signs, Brown sees benefits to the draft selection for him personally and for the JMU program.  He stated, “It makes me feel like I’m still wanted, even when I’m not on the field playing.  It’s also a good thing for our team and will make our team better next year.  It shows that if you do good things, people are going to notice.”

Brown was the 11th player taken from the Colonial Athletic Association in the 2012 draft.  His selection marks the seventh straight year for a JMU player to be taken in the draft.  A former JMU player has been selected in all but three MLB Drafts dating back to 1976.


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