HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Taylor Braley said Kirk McCarty had grown up playing baseball together, from the ranks of youth baseball through the state championships at Oak Grove High School to the lights at the diamond at Taylor Park at the University of Southern Mississippi.
So, perhaps it's only fitting that the long-time teammates and friends would be selected on the same afternoon with a chance to fulfill dreams.
Braley, a junior third baseman/right-handed pitcher, was taken on the second day of Major League Baseball's Amateur Draft, with the Miami Marlins tapping him in the sixth round as the 179th overall pick as a pitcher.
McCarty, a junior left-handed pitcher, went a round later, going to the Cleveland Indians in the seventh round as the 222nd overall selection.
"I'm doing pretty good, but it hasn't really sunk in yet, I don't think," Braley said late Tuesday afternoon. "There isn't any doubt about it. It definitely could be a life-changing decision."
Decisions that drastically could change the face of the Golden Eagles for the 2018 baseball season.
Braley and McCarty, both first-team All-Conference USA selections, were two of three starting pitchers in Southern Miss' weekend rotation and would anchor of the 2018 staff should they return for their senior seasons.
But both were the highest selections in the MLB draft since B.A. Vollmuth was taken in the third round in 2011 by the Oakland Athletics, and they are the first pair of Golden Eagles selected in the first 10 rounds since Jarrett Hoffpauir (sixth round) and Matt Shepherd (eighth round) were both selected by the St. Louis Cardinals as part of 2004's five-man draft class.
McCarty, who has won 18 games in the past two years, said he wanted to wait before saying too much about Tuesday's developments.
"I'm very excited for what's to come," McCarty said.
Draftees have until July 15 to decide whether to sign professional contracts. Teams have a signing bonus "pool" of money to draw from, with each position of the draft allocated a particular amount.
In a breakdown by Baseball America of the bonus pools and money earmarked for each "slot," the signing bonus for the 179th pick is projected at $253,800. The 222nd selection is projected at $179,500.
"It's definitely something to think about," Braley said of his sixth-round selection. "I don't know what exactly they want to do yet, but there's some room for negotiation."
Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said he would await the decisions of both players.
"These two individuals have certainly been an integral part of our success over the last three years," Berry said. "Both have worked hard on their games and been outstanding representatives of our program."
In 2017, McCarty and Braley helped lead the Golden Eagles to their first 50-win season and a Conference USA regular-season championship.
McCarty went 10-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 17 starts. He became the first Golden Eagle since Shea Douglas in 2002 to reach the 100-strikeout mark with 103 strikeouts against just 22 walks. As a sophomore, McCarty was 8-1 with a 3.15 ERA. His 22 career wins are tied for fifth on Southern Miss' career list.
Braley, who was named second-team All-America by Baseball America last week, was a double threat for the Golden Eagles at the plate and on the mound.
Braley hit .313 with 12 doubles, 17 home runs and 61 RBIs to go along with a single-season record 63 walks. He posted a .461 on-base percentage and .587 slugging percentage.
As a pitcher, he appeared in 14 games, starting 13, and finished 7-2 with a 3.40 ERA. He struck out 78 batters in 82 innings with 22 walks.
The MLB draft wraps up Wednesday, with rounds 11 through 40. Southern Miss senior first baseman Dylan Burdeaux, junior right-handed pitcher Hayden Roberts and junior outfielder Daniel Keating are prospective draftees, as is Jones County Junior College sophomore center fielder Fred Franklin.