|Kenny Long drafted by Astros|
|Written by Todd Marver, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Tuesday, 19 June 2012 15:52|
Illinois State baseball has become a pipeline to the majors as a Redbird has been selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft for the third consecutive year.
After waiting patiently through the first 21 rounds of the draft on June 6, recent graduating senior closer Kenny Long was taken by the Houston Astros with the first pick of the 22nd round in the draft.
"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."
In 2012, Long made 30 appearances for ISU with a team-best 2.29 ERA and was successful on 13-of-13 save opportunities. He gave up only 11 walks, held opponents to just a .189 batting average, and led the bullpen in innings pitched (51) and strikeouts (52).
Long is the all-time leader in four categories in the ISU baseball record book with 28 saves, 96 appearances, a .200 batting average against, and 73 games finished. Current Cleveland Indians hurler Jeremy Accardo held the previous career saves record of 12.
The Fox River Grove, Ill. native also holds the record for single-season saves with 13 this past season and the left-hander was selected to the All-Missouri Valley Conference First Team three times during his career.
During Long’s four years as a Redbird, the program accumulated a total of 112 wins. He was also part of the program’s first ever Missouri Valley Conference regular season title and second ever MVC tournament championship in 2010. ISU made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament Regional in Louisville, Ky. that same season.
"Illinois State helped me so much," Long said. "Coach 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."
Long signed his contract with the Astros on June 10 and reported to the Tri-City ValleyCats of the New York-Penn League on June 13 to open his professional career.
"Everyone with the ISU baseball team is happy and proud for Kenny," Illinois State head coach Mark Kingston said. "He had a tremendous career both here and in the Cape Cod League. We expect him to do great things in professional baseball."
Long’s draft to the big leagues was preceded by former ISU pitcher Ryan Copeland, who was selected in the 32nd round in 2010 by the Saint Louis Cardinals, and a pair of 2011 graduates, third-baseman Ryan Court and right-handed pitcher Corey Maines were picked in the 23rd round in last year’s draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees, respectively.
Court is currently playing for the South Bend Silver Hawks, the single-A farm club of the Arizona Diamondbacks, while Maines’ last stint came with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Yankees.