Illinois State senior pitcher Kenny Long was selected Wednesday in the 22nd round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Houston Astros.
The left-hander had a team-best 2.29 earned run average and converted all 13 of his save chances this season. He struck out 52 in 51 innings while walking 11 and holding opponents to a .189 batting average.
Long graduated from ISU as the record holder in career saves (28), single-season saves (13), appearances (96), batting average against (.200) and games finished (73). He was a three-time all-Missouri Valley Conference first-team pick.
“You never know what it will feel like until you actually get that phone call,” Long said. “It is so weird hearing your name called, but it is a great feeling. I will remember it forever.”
Long led a senior class that was responsible for 112 victories, one regular season Missouri Valley championship, one Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament berth.
“Illinois State helped me so much,” Long said. “Coach (Mark) Kingston and especially Coach (Bill) Mohl developed me into the level of a player that could get drafted. My teammates, coaches and family have been very supportive.”
Kingston, ISU’s head coach, said everyone associated with the program “is happy and proud for Kenny.”
“He had a tremendous career both here and in the Cape Cod League,” Kingston said. “We expect him to do great things in professional baseball.”
ISU recruit Chad Johnson was taken in the fifth round by the Kansas City Royals. He was the 163rd overall pick after hitting .389 with seven home runs, 14 doubles and 38 RBI as a catcher at Galesburg High School. He has until July 13 to sign a professional contract or enroll at ISU.
Heartland draftees: Former Heartland College players Jon Weaver and Jared Grundy were drafted Wednesday. Weaver, now at Central Michigan, went in the 21st round to Tampa Bay. Grundy, now at Kentucky, was taken by Minnesota in the 27th round.
Also, Hawks recruit Justin Chigbogu, a first baseman from Raytown (Mo.) South High School, was selected Tuesday in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Dodgers.