By JOEL COLEMAN
What a difference a year makes. One season after Mississippi State didn’t have a single player drafted in the Major League Baseball Draft, the event wrapped up on Saturday with a school record 11 players drafted. That total was the third most from any school in the country.
Seven Bulldogs heard their names called on Saturday. Those included pitcher Zac Houston, first baseman Nathaniel Lowe, infielder and catcher Gavin Collins, pitcher Vance Tatum, pitcher Austin Sexton, catcher Jack Kruger and outfielder Brent Rooker.
Houston was taken in the 11th round by the Detroit Tigers, the same organization that selected MSU centerfielder Jacob Robson on Saturday. Houston owns a 6-0 record on the mound for MSU this year and has a team-best 1.63 earned run average.
Lowe was picked in the 13th round by the Tampa Bay Rays, just two picks ahead of Collins, who was also taken in the 13th round by the Cleveland Indians. Entering Saturday, Lowe led MSU in hits this season and boasted a .354 batting average. Collins entered Saturday as State’s leading home run hitter with 10 for the season.
Tatum was picked in the 18th round by the Kansas City Royals. Three picks later, Sexton was picked by the St. Louis Cardinals, who also took MSU ace Dakota Hudson in the first round of the draft on Thursday.
Tatum has made 17 appearances for Mississippi State this year. He has struck out 23 batters and walked just seven.
Sexton has been a key part of MSU’s weekend rotation this year and posted an 8-3 record with a 3.67 ERA entering play Saturday.
Kruger and Rooker were the final two Bulldogs selected. Kruger went in the 20th round to the Los Angeles Angels. Rooker was picked by the Minnesota Twins in the 38th round.
Kruger had a team-high .558 slugging percentage entering Saturday. Rooker was right behind with a .545 mark.
Other Bulldogs taken in the last three days included outfielder and pitcher Reid Humphreys, along with pitcher Daniel Brown. Both Humphreys and Brown were selected in the seventh round with Humphreys picked by the Colorado Rockies and Brown picked by the Milwaukee Brewers.
The 11 total Bulldogs picked in the draft trailed only Texas A&M (13) and Southern California (12) for the most picks coming from any one school
Four Mississippi State signees were also selected in the MLB Draft.
On Friday, the Cardinals took George County High School outfielder Walker Robbins while the New York Mets picked Colin Holderman, a right-handed pitcher from Heartland Community College in Illinois.
On Saturday, the Los Angeles Dodgers took right-handed pitcher Douglas Ashcraft from Huntsville (Ala.) High School and the Toronto Blue Jays selected Magnolia Heights catcher Dustin Skelton.
All players selected in the draft with eligibility remaining have until July 15 to either agree to terms with their organizations or decide to return to or go to school.