Nine OVC players selected in MLB draft

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Ohio Valley Conference more than held its own in last week's baseball draft.

Two OVC players were selected in the first 101 picks, led by Eastern Illinois junior lefthanded pitcher Tyler Kehrer.

In somewhat of a surprise, Kehrer was the first OVC player taken. He went No. 48 overall to the Los Angeles Angels, in the compensatory round sandwiched between the first and second rounds.

Kehrer is the second-highest player selected from the OVC since 1997. He's behind only 2008 first-round selection Christian Friedrich of Eastern Kentucky, a lefthanded pitcher who was picked 25th overall.

Jacksonville State junior pitcher Ben Tootle was regarded as a likely first-round selection when the season started, but an injury-plagued campaign dropped Tootle's stock considerably. He was drafted in the third round, No. 101 by the Minnesota Twins.

Kehrer and Tootle, as juniors, still could decide to return to school for their senior seasons next year. But considering that players picked in the top three rounds generally receive a fairly substantial signing bonus, I would be surprised if Kehrer and Tootle don't turn professional.

The OVC also was represented fairly well in the later rounds, with a total of nine players drafted. That includes Southeast Missouri State junior catcher Jim Klocke, who was taken by his hometown St. Louis Cardinals in the 46th round (No. 1,389 overall).

Eastern Illinois had two more players selected, senior outfielder Brett Nommensen in the eighth round by the Tampa Bay Rays (No. 259 overall) and senior shortstop Jordan Kreke in the 13th round by the Atlanta Braves (388).

Austin Peay junior pitcher Daniel Tenholder went in the 19th round to the Oakland A's (573), Tennessee Tech senior lefthanded pitcher Ryan Dennick went in the 22nd round to the Kansas City Royals (662), Murray State junior lefthanded pitcher Daniel Calhoun went in the 29th round to the Cardinals (879) and Jacksonville State draft-eligible sophomore pitcher Jason Zylstra went in the 36th round to the Twins (1,092).

Kreke was the OVC player of the year this season, while Calhoun earned pitcher of the year honors.

It will be interesting to see how many, if any, of the non-seniors return to school.

Particularly intriguing will be Calhoun's decision. If he comes back to Murray State, that could make a young Thoroughbreds team the OVC preseason favorite.

A high school player from the region was selected in the baseball draft as Sikeston senior outfielder Vince Howard was taken in the 30th round by the Braves. He was the 898th overall pick.

Congratulations to Scott City High School graduate Loren Groves, who last week capped a brilliant collegiate track and field career with her fourth All-American award.

Groves, a Kansas State senior, placed seventh in the hammer throw at the NCAA outdoor championships in Fayetteville, Ark.

Groves also earned All-American honors for finishing fifth in the hammer throw at last year's NCAA outdoor meet and sixth in the indoor weight throw in both 2007 and 2008.

What made Groves' most recent accomplishment especially remarkable is that she competed the entire outdoor season with a torn shoulder labrum. She will have surgery Wednesday, after delaying the procedure in order to finish out her senior campaign.

That is some big-time guts and determination.

Here's wishing Groves -- also a top-notch student who was a four-time Academic All-Big 12 selection (she graduated in May with a 3.76 GPA in education) -- all the best in her rehab and also in her dream of competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

An NCAA committee last week approved several rules changes for college basketball, including one intended to clarify block-charge calls that should be especially interesting.

Defenders must now establish position outside the area between the backboard and the front of the rim to draw a charge call, meaning charges will no longer be called directly underneath the basket. It's relatively similar to the NBA's rule for block-charge calls, where a charge cannot be drawn inside a circle outlined near the basket.

The committee also changed the rule regarding who can shoot free throws when a fouled player is injured. Previously, the shooting team's coach could select any player on his roster to take free throws. Now, the coach must select from the four players remaining on the court.

Andy Katz recently wrote an in-depth article on about first-year Southeast men's basketball coach Dickey Nutt.

The piece profiles Nutt's ouster at Arkansas State and the resurrection of his coaching career in Cape Girardeau.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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