This week, four Oregon baseball players were picked in the 2018 MLB Draft. Junior pitchers Matt Mercer and Parker Kelly, senior infielder Kyle Kasser and junior catcher Ray Soderman were all drafted.
Mercer was drafted in the fifth round, 159 overall, of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is the ninth highest drafted Oregon player since the program’s reinstatement. With one year of eligibility remaining, Mercer can decide whether to sign with Arizona or return for his senior season. MLB.com values that pick at $314.8K.
The junior pitcher is 13-16 in his career with a 3.77 ERA and is currently ninth in program history with 176 strikeouts.
Mercer went into this season as the Friday night starter thanks to a 3.16 ERA in his sophomore season, but went 5-7 this season with a 4.16 ERA in 88.2 innings pitched. The right hander eclipsed his career high in innings (88.1) by 0.1 innings.
If Mercer signs with Arizona, he will recognize a few faces. Former Oregon players, catcher Tim Susnara (2017) and utilityman Mark Karaviotis (2016) are currently playing in the lower minors for the Diamondbacks. Jimmie Sherfy, another former Duck (2014), is currently the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A closer.
Notable players picked 159 overall include Jake Arrieta, the 2015 Cy Young award winner, 2016 World Series champion and a thrower of two no-hitters, as well as Joe Nathan, a six-time All Star and 2009 relief pitcher of the year.
Mercer’s catcher, Soderman, was drafted in round 22, 652 overall, by the Atlanta Braves. Soderman won the catching job early in the season after transferring from College of San Mateo. He started 48 games and batted .225, including a walkoff hit against USC.
Kasser was picked in round 30, pick 902, by the Kansas City Royals. The Royals currently have one of the lowest ranked farm systems in the MLB, which should give Kasser a chance to stick in the minors long enough to open some eyes.
The infielder was first-team All-Pac-12 in 2017 and batted .299 in his four years with the Ducks. Kasser has also shown his creative ability to score runs, after scoring four in a game against Utah earlier this season.
Relief pitcher Parker Kelly was drafted on day three by the St. Louis Cardinals. Kelly’s older brother, Carson, is currently a catcher in the Cardinals organization.
The junior had his best season as a Duck this year, going 4-0 with a 3.26 ERA while recording three saves in 47 innings pitched. His emergence as a shutdown pitcher compelled head coach George Horton to move ace Kenyon Yovan to the starting rotation.
Three former Ducks were drafted as well. Azusa Pacific pitcher Isaiah Carranza (round 12, 348 overall) and University of Arizona shortstop Travis Moniot (round 17, 498 overall) were drafted by the Chicago White Sox and Oklahoma State third baseman Matt Kroon (round 18, 527 overall) was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Oregon could possibly lose some future Ducks as well. Incoming freshmen catcher Cameron Barstad and first baseman Andrew Miller were drafted. Barstad was drafted in the sixth round, 177 overall, by the Miami Marlins. MLB.com values that slot at $269K. According to MaxPreps, Barstad hit .422 in his senior season at Serra High School. Miller, drafted in round 37, 1103 overall, is less likely to forgo college.
Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack