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Baseball: Three Ohio State players selected in MLB draft; two recruits also drafted

Ohio State redshirt senior outfielder Shea Murray stands in the box against Purdue on April 1, 2017 at Bill Davis Stadium. Credit: Edward Sutelan | Lantern reporter

It was a down year for the Ohio State baseball team, but three players managed to find success this season as graduates starting pitcher Shea Murray and catcher Jalen Washington, along with junior Tre’ Gantt were selected in the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

The Buckeyes also heard the name of their top two recruits — left-handed starting pitcher Seth Lonsway and right-handed starting pitcher Xavier Moore — called on Wednesday.

Though Murray had made the transition from the mound to the outfield this past season, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him in the 18th round, 538th overall as a pitcher. This marks the second time Murray has been drafted by a MLB team, as he was drafted as a pitcher in the 39th round (1,158th overall) by the Texas Rangers in 2015.

On the mound, Murray owns a career 10.95 ERA over 12.1 innings of work. He struck out 17 batters, though 12 walks and overall control issues led to the decision for him to switch to the outfield.

In his only season as a hitter, Murray posted a .252/.329/.449 slash line with three home runs and a pair of stolen bases. His three triples on the season were tied for the most on the team, and his .449 slugging percentage was the fourth-best on the team.

Ohio State’s starting shortstop this past season, Washington, was chosen by the San Diego Padres in the 29th round with the 858th overall pick. But like Murray, it was not for the position he played in 2017.

Washington was drafted by the Padres as a catcher, the position he manned in the 2016 season during the Buckeyes’ Big Ten tournament title run. That year, he caught 59 games and was placed on the Johnny Bench Award watch list on May 18, 2016. However, the team opted to shift him over to shortstop for the 2017 season, in an effort to make the most of his athleticism.

Over his career, he has a .254/.357/.393 slash line with 10 home runs and 32 stolen bases. At the plate, 2017 was a career year for Washington as he posted career-highs in doubles (14), triples (five), home runs (seven), batting average (.266) and slugging percentage (.468), while tying a career-high in stolen bases (14).

Gantt was the third and final Buckeye drafted on Wednesday after he was selected in the 29th round, 882nd by the Cleveland Indians. He still has one remaining year of eligibility, and could return to the team if he and the Indians do not agree to terms on a contract.

In his first year as a regular starter, Gantt maximized every opportunity and spent the bulk of the season batting atop the Buckeyes’ lineup and playing center field.

Though he did start in 38 games and appear in 47 games two seasons ago, it was not until the second half of the year when now-Colorado Rockies’ minor league first baseman Jacob Bosiokovic made the switch from right field to first base to free up the position for Gantt to play.

Gantt enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2017, posting career-highs in every major statistical category, including a team-leading .426 on-base percentage. He was also tied for the team lead with 14 stolen bases with Washington. His overall slash line of .314/.426/.426 proved valuable for the Buckeye offense as he served as the catalyst for the team’s offense batting out of the leadoff spot in 41 of the team’s 56 games.

The Buckeyes also saw a pair of recruits drafted on Wednesday.

The first pitcher selected was Xavier Moore, a recruit from Lorain, Ohio, who was drafted in the 16th round with the 494th overall selection by the Texas Rangers. The graduate of Amherst High School is expected to sign with the Rangers.

Ohio State’s top recruit, Seth Lonsway, was selected in the 19th round with the 557th overall pick by the Cincinnati Reds.

The southpaw out of Celina High School in Celina, Ohio, was ranked as the 148th best draft prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was projected to be a third-round pick in the draft by MLB.com and Baseball America. Prior to the draft, he told The Daily Standard’s Colin Foster that he would determine the strength of his commitment based on where he was selected in the draft. The amount of days he has remaining until he can reach an agreement with the Reds is still unknown.

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