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New York, NY – Austin Peay State University’s baseball team saw a quartet of student-athletes drafted in the third day of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft, Saturday.
Junior catcher Ridge Smith was the first Governors player to be drafted, hearing his named called in the 12th round (372nd pick) by the Toronto Blue Jays. Junior third baseman/outfielder Logan Gray went next with his hometown Kansas City Royals nabbing him in the 13th round (403rd pick).
APSU Baseball’s Ridge Smith, Logan Gray, Garrett Copeland and Jared Carkuff drafted in Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft, Saturday.
The next pair had to wait until late afternoon for the conference call to announce their name. Junior second baseman Garrett Copeland was picked up by the Baltimore Orioles in the 30th round (901st pick). Senior right-handed pitcher Jared Carkuff went in the 35th round (1,062nd pick) to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Austin Peay’s four draft picks were one shy of the Austin Peay record set in 2013 when five players were drafted. The quartet were part of a record 14 Ohio Valley Conference players drafted in this year’s draft – breaking the mark set in 2010.
The Governors’ four picks were tied with Morehead State for most in the league. Southeast Missouri saw two players picked, including fourth-round pick and OVC Pitcher of the Year Joey Lucchesi. Eastern Kentucky (2) and Belmont (2) also had players drafted.
Smith, of Cordova, Tennessee, batted just .294 during the 2016 season but had 11 home runs and 43 RBI. He ended the season with a flourish, batting .364 during May with 13 RBI. That included a .444 batting average during Austin Peay’s four games in the Ohio Valley Conference Baseball Championship with two doubles and four RBI. He began the championship with a 4-for-5 performance against Belmont.
A 29th-round pick by Cleveland in the 2013 MLB draft, Smith ended his third season at Austin Peay with 190 career hits – 22nd most in program history. He also ranked among the program’s top 25 in doubles (46, 12th), triples (12th, 7) and home runs (19, 20th), RBI (117, 22nd) and runs scored (123, 25th).
Gray, of Leawood, Kansas, led Austin Peay with a .356 batting average and was tied for the team lead with 12 home runs in 2016 despite missing 14 games. He hit at an impressive clip upon his return, batting .420 during his first 17 games back in the lineup. Gray ultimately batted .373 during the season’s final 23 games with eight home runs and 30 RBI.
The sixth member of the Govs 30-home run club, Gray reached the milestone at Morehead State, April 29. He finished the season with 32 home runs – fifth-most in program history. Gray finished his junior season ranking in the program’s top 25 in slugging percentage (.624, third), doubles (44, 16th), RBI (115, 24th). Gray was previously selected in the 25th round of the 2013 draft by Kansas City.
Copeland, of Bartlett, Tennessee, started every game of the 2016 season and has started every game of his Austin Peay career – a streak of 164 consecutive games started. The Govs leadoff hitter he entered the season with a 32-game reached base safely streak and extended it to 40 games – the third-longest streak in program history. Copeland later had a 23-game reached-safely streak and ended the 2016 season with a 17-game streak. He failed to reach base safely in just three games during the year.
Copeland batted .319 during the season with four home runs, 32 RBI, 42 walks and 12 stolen bases. Those totals included an OVC championship-leading .476 batting average, leading to all-tournament honors. He finished the season ranked third in program history with 118 walks. Copeland also ranked among the top 25 in runs scored (141, 15th), stolen bases (43, 18th), hits (191, 21st) and doubles (39, 22nd).
Carkuff, of Bell Buckle, Tennessee, was a second-team All-OVC pick and was named to the OVC All-Tournament team. He led all OVC pitchers with 32 appearances and 24 games finished in 2016, compiling a 6-1 record, six saves and a team-best 3.57 earned-run average. After a rocky start, Carkuff appeared 25 times in Austin Peay’s final 39 games, posting a 6-1 record, five saves and 2.81 ERA during that stretch while striking out 53 of the 198 batters he faced.
Carkuff ended his career with a flourish, piecing together a 6.2-inning relief outing in an elimination game against Belmont, May 28. He struck out a career-high 11 batters in that outing, including retiring the Bruins in order in the 13th inning to secure the win.
A four-year member of the Govs, Carkuff ends his career ranked third in appearances (87), seventh in strikeouts (196), 10th in saves (9), 14th in innings pitched (231.2) and 24th in victories (14).