Alabama State relief pitchers Armando Ruiz and Jorge Pantoja, Alcorn State center fielder Earl Burl III, Grambling State center fielder Edwin Drexler, Jackson State infielder Melvin Rodriguez, Mississippi Valley State out fielder Kalik May, Southern ceter fielder Lance Jones and Arkansas – Pine Bluff pitchers Andre Davis and Kevin Walsh were selected in the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft.
Ruiz was a 29th round selection by the Oakland A’s and appeared in 88 games during his four-year Hornet career, capped off by receiving his Bachelor’s degree in business management last month. He posted a 5-7 record and a 3.97 ERA with 14 saves during his career, with 111 innings pitched and 125 strikeouts. This season, Ruiz was the closer, appearing in 24 games with a 1-1 record with a 3.63 ERA and a career-high seven saves.
Pantoja was selected in the 30th round by the Washington Nationals and appeared in 52 games primarily as a middle reliever. He struck out 54 batters in 56.1 IP during his three-year career.
Burl III (Alcorn State), a member of the 2015 All-SWAC Baseball Tournament team after producing an outstanding performance last week. He recorded two hits, scored two runs and collected three RBIs during the tournament. He also putout seven batters from the opposing teams the Braves faced in the tournament.
JSU’s Rodriguez was taken in the 18th round and was the 554 pick. He is the first Tiger to be drafted since Pernell Halliman was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 40th round in 2008. He was named to the NCBWA All-America third team and the ABCA All-Region second team Wednesday morning. His other honors include being named a Louisville Slugger All-American, a finalist for the C Spire Ferriss Trophy, SWAC Player of the Year, SWAC Co-Hitter of the Year, an All-SWAC first team selection, a SWAC All-Tournament team member and was on the Dick Howser Trophy Watch List.
Drexler (Grambling State) was chosen in round 38 by the Los Angeles Dodgers and was second of the team with 39 hits and let the Tigers 30 runs scored starting in all 38 games this past season.
The Toronto Blue Jays drafted Kalik May from Mississippi Valley State in round 33. During the 2014 season, Kalik played and started in all 42 games. In 149 at bats, he recorded 17 runs on 36 hits, six doubles, four triples, one homerun and 14 RBIs. His slugging rate for the season was .356 and a fielding of .941. Kalik started and played in 43-43 games this season. In 179 at bats, he recorded 37 runs on 60 hits, 11 doubles, five triples, four homerun and 33 RBIs. His slugging rate this season is .520 and a .896 fielding rate.
Jones had his name called in round 36 by the Bluejays as well. He finished the 2015 season batting .302 with an on base percentage of .400. He was fourth on the team in runs scored (29), RBI (21), and third in doubles with 10. Jones started in 38 of the teams 43 games.
Davis (UAPB) was the highest player drafted among all SWAC athletes going to the Kansas City Royals in the eighth round. This past season for the Golden Lions, Davis saw action in 38 games, while starting in 37 of them. He finished the season with 51 hits in 140 at-bats for a .364 batting average, while driving in 39 runs and scoring 34. He also tallied 12 doubles, one triple and six homers for a total of 19 hits for extra bases. On the mound for UAPB, Davis made 19 appearances on the mound, while making one start. He finished the season with 2.28 ERA in 27.2 innings pitched for a 2-2 record and five saves, while striking out 35. Davis was a 2015 First Team All-SWAC selection.
Walsh was selected in the 21st round by the Philadelphia Phillies Wednesday afternoon during the third day of the draft earned First-Team All-SWAC in 2014 and 2015. After transferring from Gloucester Community College, Walsh compiled a 4-2 record with a 1.70 ERA. He allowed 12 runs (eight earned) on 29 hits over 42.1 innings with 54 strikeouts.
Ruiz and Pantoja (Alabama State) became the ninth and 10th ASU baseball players selected in the MLB Draft, with five players drafted in the past two seasons – Jesse Cleveland (1965), Willie Garrison (1967), William Hardy (1979), Rufas Ellis (1984 and 1985), Adrian Urquhart (2002), and Emmanuel Marrero, Richard Amion, and Richard Gonzalez (2014).