MLB draft could impact 2018 USM pitching staff

MLB draft could impact 2018 USM pitching staff

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Depending on the decisions made within the next few weeks, the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft could have a major impact on the University of Southern Mississippi's 2018 pitching staff.

Tuesday, two juniors who finished the season as the Golden Eagles' top two starting pitchers, Taylor Braley and Kirk McCarty, were selected in the sixth round and seventh round, respectively, on the draft's second day.

Braley, a right-handed double-threat as a standout third baseman/designated hitter, went to the Miami Marlins, while McCarty, a left-hander who won 18 games the past two seasons, was selected by the Cleveland Indians.

Wednesday, Southern Miss junior right-hander Hayden Roberts and right-handed junior college signee Kyle Keith of Lane County Community College in Eugene, Ore., were selected on the draft's final day.

Keith was taken in the 22nd round by the Texas Rangers, and Roberts went in the 34th round to the Colorado Rockies.

All four players have until July 15 to decide whether they will sign professional contracts.

Keith, who migrated to Oregon from Casper, Wyo., went 5-4 with a 2.86 ERA this spring at Lane College, striking out 66 in 66 innings.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Keith told The Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard Wednesday that he was leaning toward turning pro.

"I'm pretty confident I am going to sign," Keith told the newspaper.

Roberts, who returned from Tommy John surgery as a sophomore to start the 2016 Conference USA championship game and a NCAA Regional game, had an eventful 2017.

The 6-foot, 187-pound Irvington, Ala., native began his junior season as the Golden Eagles' Friday night starting pitcher, but after consecutive rough outings against Rice University and Old Dominion University, his last 10 appearances of the season were out of the bullpen.

Roberts finished the season 5-2 with a 4.30 ERA and a save in 20 appearances. He struck out 86 in 73 1/3 innings with 27 walks.

The Golden Eagles' 2017 draft class also included senior first baseman Dylan Burdeaux, Conference USA's 2017 Player of the Year.

Burdeaux, who led the nation with 102 hits, was taken in the 20th round Wednesday by the Detroit Tigers. The West Monroe, La., native hit .337 with 12 home runs and 69 RBIs this past spring.

It marked the first time since 2014 that Southern Miss had four players taken in the same draft.