NEW ORLEANS — It pays to have patience.
On day two of the 2017 MLB Draft, eight Sun Belt players were taken off the board. Georgia Southern, South Alabama and 2016 National Champions Coastal Carolina all watched two alumni join The Show.
Tyler Zuber, the lone Red Wolf taken on day two, was the first Sun Belt player off the board. His 2.06 ERA last season ranks as the fourth best in school history, his 20 wins rank as third most and his 12 career saves are the second most in school history.
Landon Hughes was the next to go, just 20 picks later, and he was taken by his hometown Atlanta Braves. His 89 appearances are third most in school history, and his 258 strikeouts for place him second in school history.
Teammate Jordan Wren had to wait a little longer to be picked up, the second-straight year that the Eagle right fielder has been drafted by the Boston Red Sox.
First team All-Sun Belt catcher Jared Barnes was the first of two Jaguars taken on day two. He led the Sun Belt Conference in slugging percentage (.768) and on-base percentage (.504) during league games, tied for the league lead in home runs (10) and ranked second in total bases (73) and third in batting average (.368) and RBI (32).
Randy Bell, the other Jaguar taken on day two, finished the regular season as the Sun Belt leader in strikeouts looking, ranked tied for second in innings pitched (98.1), tied for third in walks allowed and fourth in strikeouts. The right-hander was named to the NCAA Hattiesburg (Miss.) All-Regional Team after tossing a complete game in a win over No. 2 seed Mississippi State.
Billy Cooke, the 2017 Sun Belt Player of the Year, was the only other pick in the eighth round, behind Barnes. The Chanticleer led the league in batting, on base percentage and runs scored while being the only player in the league to rank among its top eight in batting, on base percentage, runs scored, slugging percentage, stolen bases, total bases, hits, doubles, walks and home runs.
Cooke’s teammate Alex Cunningham, a second team All-American, was the next Sun Belt pick, having graduated from Coastal in the spring of 2016. He returned for his senior year to pursue his M.B.A. despite being drafted in the 28th round by the Detroit Tigers last season.
Austin Gardner, the 59th Maverick ever taken in the draft, posted a 1-0 record and a 0.69 ERA in 17 games in Sun Belt Conference play, striking out 32 in 26 innings. Over his final 26 games, had a 1.83 ERA and Gardner posted a 2-0 mark and a 1.17 ERA at Clay Gould.
2017 MLB Draftees
Tyler Zuber, RHP, Arkansas State
Round 6 – Pick 180
Kansas City Royals
Landon Hughes, RHP, Georgia Southern
Round 7 – Pick 200
Jared Barnes, C, South Alabama
Round 8 – Pick 239
Billy Cooke, OF, Coastal Carolina
Round 8 – Pick 243
Alex Cunningham, RHP, Coastal Carolina
Round 9 – Pick 258
San Diego Padres
Austin Gardner, RHP, UTA
Round 9 – Pick 272
New York Yankees
Randy Bell, RHP, South Alabama
Round 10 – Pick 303
Jorden Wren, OF, Georgia Southern
Round 10 – Pick 311
Boston Red Sox