MLB grabs talent from Ohio Valley Conference

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Ohio Valley Conference had another impressive haul during last week's annual Major League Baseball amateur draft.

Twelve OVC players were selected in the three-day, 40-round event. That gives the league 58 players drafted over the past six years, including a conference-record 13 in 2010. Not too shabby.

Southeast Missouri State produced two of those selections in junior pitcher Shae Simmons and All-American senior third baseman Trenton Moses.

Simmons, a Scott City High School graduate, was drafted in the 22nd round by the Braves with pick No. 689 overall.

Moses, an Advance High School graduate who was the OVC player of the year as a junior and senior and earned All-American honors following both seasons, was selected in the 26th round by the Braves. He was pick No. 809 overall.

Congratulations and good luck to Simmons and Moses, who have signed contracts with the Braves and soon will begin their professional careers and try to make every kid's dream come true by reaching the major leagues. The odds of that are extremely long, but who's to say it won't happen for the local duo?

The OVC had two picks in the first 10 rounds. Eastern Kentucky shortstop Richie Rodriguez went in the ninth round to the Mets with the 290th overall selection, and Jacksonville State first baseman Ben Waldrip went in the 10th round to the Rockies at No. 318 overall.

The other OVC players drafted were Tennessee-Martin pitcher Alec Mills (22nd round, Royals); Eastern Illinois shortstop Ryan Dineen (25th round, Astros); Jacksonville State third baseman Sam Eberle (25th round, Giants); Austin Peay pitcher Zach Toney (26th round, White Sox); Austin Peay outfielder Michael Blanchard (30th round, Giants); Eastern Kentucky pitcher Anthony Bazzani (31st round, Orioles); Tennessee Tech pitcher Matthew Shepherd (31st round, Padres) and Jacksonville State pitcher Daniel Watts (32nd round, Diamondbacks).

Simmons and Moses are Southeast's 24th and 25th all-time baseball draft picks. That figure includes two players -- catcher Jim Klocke and infielder Zach Borowiak -- who were selected twice.

Based on information from the university's athletic department website, I incorrectly wrote in an article last week that Simmons and Moses were Southeast's 15th and 16th draft selections.

Seventeen of the 25 draft picks have come since 1995, when coach Mark Hogan took over the program.

This year's two draft picks tie Southeast's most in one year, which has happened six times.

Southeast's highest-ever baseball draft pick was pitcher Galen McSpadden, who was taken by the Padres in the sixth round in 1974. Next is pitcher Joe Schultz, who was drafted by the Astros in the 11th round in 1985.

Southeast's highest selection from its Division I era is Borowiak, who went to the Red Sox in the 14th round in 2003.

Rounding out Southeast's top five highest draft picks are pitchers Brandon Smith (2002, 18th round, Red Sox) and Ryan Spille (1999, 19th round, Blue Jays).

McSpadden came the closest of the five to reaching the major leagues. He earned a spot on San Diego's 40-man roster in 1977 and 1978, but he suffered an arm injury in 1978 and was released.

The OVC recently announced its qualifying and seeding formula for its eight-team men's and women's postseason basketball tournaments now that the conference features 12 basketball-playing schools.

It previously had been announced that the OVC will use a divisional scheduling model for basketball beginning with the 2012-13 season. There will be two six-team divisions.

The top team in each division based on conference winning percentage automatically earns a tournament berth. The next six squads with the highest conference winning percentage also will earn a bid, regardless of division. The No. 1 seed will go to the division winner with the top conference winning percentage, while the No. 2 seed will go to the other division winner.

The remaining six teams will be seeded 3 through 8 by conference winning percentage, regardless of division.

The bracketing format for the tournaments remains the same, a merit-based format that began with the 2010-2011 campaign. The top two seeds receive double byes into the semifinals, while the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds receive a single bye to the quarterfinals. The 5 through 8 seeds match up in the first round.

The West Division will consist of Southeast, Austin Peay, Eastern Illinois, Murray State, SIU Edwardsville and Tennessee-Martin. The East Division features new member Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Morehead State, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech.

Softball and volleyball also will use a format of two six-team divisions now that those sports will feature 12 squads. The softball and volleyball postseason tournaments will expand from six to eight teams beginning this year.

Southeast men's basketball coach Dickey Nutt will have the chance to work with his players earlier than usual this year.

A new NCAA rule allows Division I men's teams eight hours a week during a period of eight weeks to work out with players who are attending summer school. Squads can begin the workouts on the first day of summer classes, which is Tuesday at Southeast.

Squads are limited to a maximum of two hours per week of actual practice time on the court. The other six hours can be spent on areas like conditioning and weightlifting.

Division I men's coaches previously could not work with their players until the first days of the fall semester. The new rule applies only to Division I men's basketball and not women's hoops.

Marty Mishow is a sports reporter for the Southeast Missourian.

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