OXFORD — Senior right-handers Brett Huber and Tanner Bailey became the final two University of Mississippi baseball players to be selected in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft on Saturday.
The Detroit Tigers chose Huber in the 31st round. Thirty picks later, the Tigers drafted Bailey in the 32nd round.
Huber and Bailey join drafted teammates Stuart Turner, Mike Mayers, and Bobby Wahl, who were taken in day two of the draft.
Huber and Bailey are the first Rebels drafted by the Tigers since Zach Kirksey last season.
The all-time saves leader at Ole Miss with 38, Huber posted 12 saves in his senior campaign to lead the Rebels and marking the second time in his career that the right-hander had posted 12 saves in a campaign.
In 23 1/3 innings and 20 appearances, Huber struck out 26 batters and held opponents to a .181 batting average against with a 1.54 ERA. He also combined for four shutouts on the season as he helped the Rebels blank No. 12 Texas Christian University, Universith of Rhode Island, Southeastern Louisiana University, and No. 13 Mississippi State University. The right-hander also picked up three victories in relief.
“It’s a blessing to be drafted today,” Huber said. “I’m so excited. I’m a big Detroit Tigers fan now. I can’t wait to get in the organization and get to work. It was exciting to then find out that one of my best friends got drafted by the same organization. It will be exciting to get to continue to pitch with Tanner Bailey.”
Bailey also played a key role for the Rebels out of the bullpen, appearing in a team-leading 30 games and working 42 2/3 innings. The right-hander struck out 38 and posted a 2.74 ERA, combing in three of the Rebels’ shutouts. He also had four victories and four saves.
“I couldn’t watch anymore because I was too stressed and just didn’t want to watch anymore, then I got a text from Tanner Mathis that said I had been drafted with Huber,” Bailey said. “I called Brett immediately and we talked. I haven’t been through this before. You don’t know what’s going to happen, and then it’s like a big weight is just off your shoulders. To keep playing baseball with Brett is going to be a lot of fun.”
n On Friday, juniors Turner, Mayers, and Wahl were the first three Rebels to have their names called. All three were taken in the top five rounds.
The Minnesota Twins selected Turner in the third round with the 78th overall pick, while Mayers was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 93rd pick in the third round. The Oakland Athletics took Wahl with the 161st pick in the fifth round.
Turner helped lead the Rebels to a 38-24 record this season, pacing the team with a .374 batting average, 51 RBIs, and 44 runs scored.
An All-America and All-SEC selection, Turner is a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award honoring the nation’s top catcher in collegiate baseball. The junior threw out 51 percent of runners on steal attempts, catching 21-of-41 on the run.
Turner is the first Rebel player drafted by the Minnesota Twins since Matt Tolbert in the 2004 MLB draft. Tolbert went on to play for the Twins in the major leagues from 2006-2011.
“It’s a dream to play in the big leagues,” Turner said. “This is just a stepping stone on the way to that dream. I’m beyond blessed to have been able to play baseball at Ole Miss and with those guys. I wish I had been able to do it for more than one year. It was a great experience, even if it didn’t end the way we all wanted it to. Getting drafted isn’t the end though; it’s just the start of the process.”
Mayers helped anchor the pitching rotation for the second straight season as the Saturday starter in weekend series. He posted 2.83 ERA this past season with 73 strikeouts and held opponents to a .227 batting average.
For his career, Mayers was 12-9 with 171 strikeouts and a .236 opponent batting average. He helped the Rebels to a pair of NCAA tournament berths, including the NCAA Regional Championship in 2012 at Texas A&M University. He also had five shutouts in his three years.
Mayers is the first Rebel drafted by the Cardinals since Scott Bittle was taken in the fourth round of the 2009 MLB draft. Lance Lynn, a starter in the Cardinals’ rotation, also played for the Rebels and was taken in the 2008 MLB draft in the supplemental first round with the.
“It’s incredible to have your name called on the draft,” Mayers said. “I’m blessed to be able to pursue this dream at 21 years old. Not many people can say that. It’s a great opportunity to play for an organization like the Cardinals, but I have to thank the fans and people at Ole Miss for the opportunity to get to this point. I can’t say enough about the coaches and my teammates and what they’ve meant to me the last few years.”
Wahl, an All-American and All-Southeastern Conference selection in 2013, went 10-0 with a 2.03 ERA in 16 starts. He became the first 10-win pitcher for the Rebels since the 2006 season when Cody Satterwhite posted 11 wins working out of the bullpen for most of the season. Wahl is the first regular starter to hit the 10-win mark since 2001 when Pete Montrenes went 10-4.
Wahl struck out 78 through in 97 2/3 innings, held opponents to a .197 batting average, and combined for three shutouts. In eight starts against nationally ranked teams, Wahl was 4-0 with a 1.14 ERA. In his four no-decisions, he left the game with the Rebels tied or holding to a lead.
Wahl is the first Rebel drafted by Oakland since J.R. Pickens was taken in the 2002 MLB draft in the 10th round. Seth Smith, a former Rebel and SEC Freshman of the Year, is a starting outfielder for the A’s.
“It’s a great honor to be drafted by the Oakland Athletics,” Wahl said. “It’s a dream come true to be able to have the opportunity to play professional baseball and you can’t ask for more than an opportunity. I have a lot to think about.”