The 2017 Major League Baseball draft saw a total of four Kennesaw State prospects make the leap into professional baseball. Pitchers Mason Ward, Tony Dibrell, and first-baseman Austin Upshaw entered the league, while pitcher Gabe Friese signed in free agency.
Dibrell was the first Owl to be drafted, being picked up in the fourth round as the 127th pick to the New York Mets. The right-handed pitcher finished the 2017 season with a record of 7-4 and a 2.45 ERA. Dibrell also posted 103 strike outs over 95.2 innings of work.
Upshaw was the next KSU player to be selected when he went in the 13th round to the Chicago Cubs as the 405th overall pick. The Owls’ first baseman has performed well in the summer league for the Chicago Cubs Minor League team, the South Bend Cubs, as he hit a three-run home run in June. In 10 games with South Bend, Upshaw is batted .386 (17-44) with four doubles, one home run and seven RBIs.
Ward was the final Owl picked in the draft, going in the 34th round to the Pittsburgh Pirates as the 1018th overall pick. The left-handed pitcher completed the 2017 season with a 4-2 record and a 3.26 ERA.
For the 10th consecutive year, the KSU baseball team has produced at least one MLB draft pick.
Friese was not selected in the draft but was able to sign with the Milwaukee Brewers during free agency. The KSU pitcher held a 3-3 record and 4.33 ERA during his 2017 campaign. Friese earned his first victory at the professional ranks with the AZL Brewers on July 5 in a 6-3 victory over the AZL White Sox. In five games, the righty has allowed just one unearned run and six hits in 10 innings.
Pitcher Richard Lovelady, who played a key role in the Owls’ bullpen in 2016 to help the Owls win the ASUN regular-season championship, was recently called up to Double-A for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the Minor League Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
Since the KSU baseball program began at the NAIA level in 1984, the school has sent 66 players to the majors, the first of which was drafted in 1989. Of these players, 51 were drafted, and 15 signed during free agency. To date, catcher Max Pentecost remains the highest draft pick in school history, going in the first round to the Toronto Blue Jays as the 11th overall pick in 2014.