Two University of Richmond baseball players may have to become rivals after they were selected in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Outfielder Mike Mergenthaler became the second Spider selected in this year as the San Francisco Giants picked him in the 32nd round with the 987th overall pick, joining redshirt junior Adam McConnell who was selected the day before by the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 30th round.
Mergenthaler, who played primarily right field for the Spiders this year, was a Second Team All-Atlantic 10 Conference selection this year after leading the team with a .305 batting average, 7 home runs and 45 RBI. During his 206-game career at Richmond, Mergenthaler hit 31 home runs and had 166 RBI.
Besides being a middle-of-the-order threat for the Spiders, Mergenthaler also showed defensive versatility. He came to Richmond as a first baseman and played there his first three years before switching to right field this past year. He adapted quickly to his new position and was tied for third in the nation with 11 outfield assists this year.
He appeared in three games as a pitcher during his career but did not have the same success as he did hitting. In his 3 1/3 innings pitched, he gave up 11 hits and 6 earned runs and never received a decision.
Mergenthaler also showed a knack for hitting in big games this year as he went 7 for 16 for a .438 average during the A-10 tournament as the Spiders reached the finals — the first time they have done that since 2003 — before losing to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Unlike Mergenthaler, McConnell has the option of returning to Richmond if he does not sign with the Dodgers. He missed all of the 2011 season with a hip injury and will be a redshirt junior if he elects to stay with Richmond.
In McConnell's 97 games with the Spiders, he is a .301 hitter and 52 stolen bases. He was Richmond's every-day shortstop during the 2009 season and 2010 season and led the team in hitting in 2009 with a .355 average.
The last Richmond junior selected by a MLB team was Joe Mahoney, who was selected during the sixth round of the 2007 Draft by the Baltimore Orioles. That was also the last time that the Spiders had multiple players taken in the same draft.
Last year, pitcher Ian Marshall was selected by the Atlanta Braves during the 40th round.
Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at email@example.com
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