Three Jayhawks picked on final day of draft
LAWRENCE, Kan. – On the final day of the 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft, the Kansas baseball team saw three of its players selected Wednesday afternoon in juniors Zack Leban and Devin Foyle, and redshirt-sophomore Brendt Citta.
Leban was picked 357th overall in the 12th round by the Miami Marlins, Foyle was swooped up in the 17th round by the Oakland Athletics with the 503rd pick and Citta heard his name called in the 38th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates (No. 1134).
“I couldn’t be happier for Leban, Foyle and Citta,” head coach Ritch Price said. “Leban came to our program as a walk-on, and leaves as a 12th-round draft pick. Foyle had an amazing season and has been a pleasure to coach for the past three years. Citta joined our program as a transfer and made an immediate impact, and had a solid year for us in 2018. I wish them all nothing but the best of luck as they chase their dreams of playing professional baseball.”
Leban spent three seasons as a reliable arm out of the Kansas bullpen, moving to the closer role in 2018. His 95-plus MPH fastball helped him achieve 12 saves this season in 26 appearances. He amassed an 8-7 record in 66 career appearances on the bump where he threw 97 innings. In that time, Leban struck out a total of 81 hitters, while compiling a 4.73 ERA.
“It is a huge honor to be drafted, I am so excited!” Leban said. “Kansas helped mold me into the man and baseball player I am today, and pushed me to get better every day. I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to what they have done for me these past three years.”
Foyle started 168 of the 169 games he played in since his freshman season in 2016. The switch hitter earned Freshman All-America honors with a .290 average his rookie season, and followed that up with a stellar junior season to finish out his collegiate career.
Foyle batted .332 with 17 doubles, one triple and 10 home runs in 2018, driving in 41 runs and touching home 48 times. He led the Jayhawks in batting average (.330), hits (68), doubles (17), home runs (10), slugging (.578), on-base percentage (.417) and stolen bases (12) en route to an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention nod.
“It is an amazing feeling to have a professional baseball organization call your name, and I am extremely honored,” Foyle said. “I have had the best three years of my life at KU, and ever since my freshman year, Kansas has prepared me for this day. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support from my coaches and teammates.”
In his one season at Kansas, Citta batted .318 with 17 doubles, one triple, four home runs, 33 RBIs and 39 runs scored. He started 54 of the 55 games he played in and reached base safely at a .395 clip. His 17 doubles ranked him tied for the team lead with Foyle while his .473 slugging percentage ranked him second.
“This is a dream come true,” Citta said. “Ever since I started playing baseball, this has been a goal for me. I can’t thank coach Price and the coaching staff enough. Without their support and knowledge, I wouldn’t be where I am today. (Price) gave me the opportunity to be a Jayhawk and I will be forever thankful.”
Leban, Foyle and Citta join junior Jackson Goddard – third round and No. 99 overall to Arizona Diamondbacks – as part of the 2018 KU draft class. This marks the fifth time since 2013 and the 13th in Price’s 16 seasons that the Jayhawks have had at least three players drafted in a single season.
“KU is an unbelievable place to develop as a student-athlete,” Price said. “I compliment our entire coaching and support staff, and thank every one of them for making this such a special place.”
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