CARBONDALE — The SIU baseball team had three players selected Wednesday on the final day of the Major League Baseball Draft.
Greg Lambert, an infielder/outfielder, was chosen by the San Diego Padres in the 21st round. Nick Hutchins, a catcher, was taken in the 27th round by the Kansas City Royals. Joey Marciano, a left-handed pitcher, was drafted in the 36th round by the San Francisco Giants.
Lambert, who was negotiating his contract late Wednesday, led SIU in most of the offensive categories this past season as a junior. He was a first team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection as well.
“It’s a credit to his ability to swing the bat, and he’s one of the best hitters we’ve had, and he’s been in our three hole ever since his freshman year,” SIU head coach Ken Henderson said of Lambert. “He’s done a great job for us. Some guys just have that ability, and he’s just a natural hitter. If he signs, we’ll miss that bat for sure.”
Hutchins was on the Johnny Bench Award watch list this past season and was an excellent defensive catcher for the Salukis.
“They are in demand, and you just can’t find guys who can catch and throw,” Henderson said of Hutchins. “He did not have a great offensive year, and he’s a much better hitter than he showed this year. But that defense never leaves. If you can catch and throw like he can, that’s an unbelievable commodity.”
Hutchins signed his contract with the Kansas City organization on Wednesday.
Marciano is a 6-foot-5, 275-pound hurler who struck out 56 batters in 46 innings. The southpaw previously played at John A. Logan College before finishing his collegiate career with the Salukis.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever coached a better kid than Joey Marciano, and he is probably the most popular kid on the team,” Henderson said. “I could not be happier for him to get this opportunity. Even though he didn’t have a great year for us, his upside is so big. He is a big human being, a good athlete, and he’s left-handed with a good arm. He’s a guy who could pitch in the big leagues if he figures it out.”
The Salukis had four players drafted this week, which is the most for the program in 27 years. Chad Whitmer, a right-handed pitcher, was picked by the New York Yankees in the 10th round on Tuesday.
“We’re proud of that, and we’re proud of the fact that we developed those kids,” Henderson said. “None of the four were ever drafted before getting here. It’s a credit to them, and they all have great work ethics. It’s good for our program, and we may very well lose a couple of juniors, but I support them 100 percent, and I’m proud of them.”