He may be saying goodbye to some highly productive players, but Chris Finwood was a pretty proud coach Tuesday.
Finwood’s Western Kentucky baseball program had three more players selected in the 2011 MLB Draft, giving the Hilltoppers a total of four players selected in the draft’s first 10 rounds.
On Tuesday, junior right-handed reliever Phil Wetherell was chosen by the New York Yankees in the eighth round (269th pick), senior catcher Matt Rice went to the Tampa Bay Rays in the ninth round (300th pick) and junior shortstop Logan Robbins was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 10th round (326th pick).
Junior outfielder Kes Carter became the highest pick in WKU history Monday when the Rays took him with the 56th pick in the draft. The Rays’ selection of Rice means that the WKU duo could both spend time together at Bowling Green Ballpark with the Hot Rods, Tampa Bay’s low-A affiliate.
“It’s great to have four kids go in the top 10 rounds, that’s another first for us,” Finwood said. “And the neat side-plot to that is that Kes and Rice going to the Rays and probably getting to play here locally, which will be really fun and I know they’re excited about that.
“With these picks we’re showing that guys are improving while they’re here. Kes went in the 43rd round out of high school, and then moves (up to the 56th pick) and the rest of those guys weren’t drafted out of high school. It just shows that we’re getting guys better while they’re here and that’s what we want.”
Carter said Monday that he intends to sign with the Rays, thus ending his time at WKU a year early. Finwood added Tuesday that he fully expects Wetherell to end his college career early and ink with the Yankees. As for Robbins, Finwood said that the junior shortstop was currently 50-50 with his decision.
As for the future, WKU had two signees chosen during the second day of the draft. Junior college right-hander Jerad Eickhoff went to the Texas Rangers in the 15th round, while St. Xavier senior right-handed pitcher Matt Spalding was chosen in the 29th round by the Boston Red Sox.
Finwood said he wasn’t sure what exactly Eickhoff would do at the moment, but did say he was confident that Spalding – one of the top high-school prospects in Kentucky – would opt to head to WKU rather than sign a pro deal.
I’ll have a full story on this in Wednesday’s Daily News