NEW YORK, N.Y. (June 7, 2006) - Five members of the Baseball Bucs squad were drafted in the first 30 rounds of Major League Baseball's annual First-Year Player Draft held Tuesday and Wednesday in New York. The five players are the most ever drafted in head coach Tony Skole's seven year tenure at ETSU, with junior Stephen Douglas (Kennesaw, Ga.) leading the way as a 16th-round selection by the Cleveland Indians.
"This is a great day for these young men and their families and this is a great day for Buccaneer Baseball," said Skole. "I am so excited for each of them and for the opportunity that they now have to pursue their dream of playing professional baseball. When these kids walked on campus for the first time, becoming a professional baseball player was a dream but definitely not a reality. Each one of them have worked so hard, sacrificed so much and persevered through many difficult times. The one thing they all have in common is a great ambition to improve and to get better."
Douglas hit .322 in his junior season with nine home runs and 40 RBI, while leading the Atlantic Sun Conference with 33 steals in 38 attempts. The Kennesaw, Ga. native finished his ETSU career with a 3.18 batting average, 21 home runs and 134 RBI. His 198 career hits leave him just two shy of becoming the fifth member of the 200-hit club. He ranks second all-time in the school's stolen base record book with 65.
"This feels unbelievable, especially with my teammates going also; that's the most exciting thing about this," said Douglas. "We all put in a lot of hard work, and to see the seniors rewarded like this today makes it all worthwhile. I could not be prouder of this team or all the other guys, none of us would be here without each other, and for us all to go in the same draft is incredible."
Senior closer Steven Calicutt (Spartanburg, S.C.) became the Bucs first second-day selection when the San Francisco Giants selected him in the 21st round. The lefty spent three seasons in ETSU's starting rotation before transitioning into the closer's role this past season. He successfully saved 10 contests, one behind Caleb Moore's single-season school record of 11. In 64 innings he compiled an 8-5 record with 47 strikeouts against just 22 walks. His 34 appearances set a single-season school record and also gave him 88 for his career, another school record.
The Indians looked to ETSU again in the 23rd round, selecting senior shortstop Chuck Hargis (Powell, Tenn.). In two seasons at ETSU, Hargis hit .345 with nine home runs and 65 RBI. In his junior campaign he was second on the team with a .387 batting average, and after struggling with injuries early in his senior season, rebounded to finish the year hitting .305.
Johnson City native Shane Byrne was selected in the 25th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. A four-year starter for the Bucs, Byrne is ETSU's all-time hits leader, finishing his career with 290 hits. He also ranks second on the career doubles list and the career RBI list. As a senior he batted .345 with eight home runs and 49 RBI.
Senior ace Jeremy Hall (Gray, Tenn.) was the final Buc selected, with the Florida Marlins taking him in the 27th round. Hall ended his senior season 5-1 with a 5.48 ERA and 84 strikeouts, despite not pitching the final month of the season due to an eye injury. The righty finished his career number two in the ETSU record books in games started, wins and strikeouts.
"It will be very exciting to follow each one of their careers and see what the future may hold," said Skole. "As happy as I am for them being drafted, I am even more proud of the young men they have become. Whether or not they make it in baseball remains to be seen, but I know for a fact these kids will be successful once their playing days are over. Our baseball program at ETSU models itself as being a big family and many people closely related to our program should feel good inside about what happened today. Our assistant coaches, trainers, strength coaches, sports information department, marketing department, Pirate Club and our administration have all played an important role in each of these young men's careers. Today has been very rewarding for everyone involved."