Stephens & Byrd Selected Tuesday In Major League Baseball Draft

June 9, 2015

HOUSTON - Rice's Leon Byrd and Jordan Stephens were both selected on Tuesday's second day of the 2015 Major League Baseball amateur draft.

Stephens was picked by the Chicago White Sox in the fifth round as the 142nd player chosen overall. Byrd went in the tenth round to the Texas Rangers as the 288th pick. The final 30 rounds of the annual first-year player draft are scheduled for Wednesday (June 10).

Stephens worked his way back to a solid All-Conference USA caliber season and starter's role after being sidelined most of 2014. The right-hander from Alvin, Texas, finished among the C-USA league leaders with 75 strikeouts (7th), a .229 opponents' batting average (8th) and a 3.17 ERA (13th). He began the year in the Owl bullpen so that he could slowly build up pitch-counts and get game-action on a predetermined work schedule before eventually finishing third on the staff with 11 starts. Stephens averaged 11.3 strikeouts per 9.0 innings and had a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 4.4-to-1. He maintained a 1.21 WHIP that was the second-best on the Owls' staff, and was the `go-to' starting pitcher when the team had to play in not one but two elimination games of the NCAA Tournament.

Byrd played in 52 of the team's 59 games, primarily at shortstop until the final game of the season when he started in left field. The Cypress, Texas, native hit .276 with runners on base and finished second on the team in RBI (35) and third in runs scored (32) & doubles (12). He drove-in two more runs in a game ten times, the second highest total on the squad, but his final RBI of the season may prove to be the best of his collegiate career. In the NCAA Tournament Byrd came off the bench to slam an RBI double to the right field corner that scored the go-ahead run vs. crosstown rival Houston in the 20th inning of an elimination game. The dramatic game-winning hit helped end a six-hour marathon that finished after 2 am. Overall he tallied 13 multi-hit games, including a season-best three-hits in a game three different times.

 

 

Stephens had never been drafted before, while Byrd was a 25th round pick coming out of high school in 2012. Both improved their respective draft profile playing at Rice under the direction and daily training regimen of Owl head coach Wayne Graham. In 2015 Rice baseball won the C-USA regular season title and finished with an overall record of 37-22.

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