By STEVEN SPEARS
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Two Mules baseball pitchers will take the mound after college.
Grant Gavin, a junior from Parkville, Missouri, and Lucas Williams, a senior from Grain Valley, Missouri, were selected in the 2016 MLB Draft. Gavin was drafted in the 29th round by the Kansas City Royals and the Houston Astros grabbed Williams in the 40th.
“When I saw my name on the draft tracker I felt very humbled and blessed,” Gavin said. “Baseball has been my passion ever since I can remember … and to have the opportunity to play after college is a culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication.”
Gavin finished the season 4-3 with a 2.64 ERA and led the MIAA in saves with 13. He pitched 30.2 innings in 27 appearances, earning 35 strikeouts while allowing 12 walks. Gavin said he was pretty sure he would be drafted at some point.
“I had a few teams talk to me leading up to the draft,” Gavin said. “I went to a predraft workout with the Royals at Kauffman Stadium last week which went really well. So I knew they were interested in me.”
Williams ended the season 4-1 with a 4.00 ERA and four saves in 25 appearances. In 45 innings pitched, he struck out 42 and walked 14. Despite having a good season, Williams said he didn’t anticipate being picked up but things just kind of worked out.
“I wasn’t really expecting to be drafted,” he said. “After the season I wasn’t in contact with anyone until the final day of the draft when Mr. Stevenson (the Houston scout) gave me a call and said that they were thinking about taking me … It’s a pretty surreal feeling.”
Williams said the UCM athletic program taught him to act professionally at all times and better prepared him for his future career in baseball.
“It’s a long road to the majors,” Williams said. “Playing for the Mules and our coaching staff allowed me to become a better person and player. I’m very excited about the opportunity (to play professional baseball) and am extremely thankful to the Astros organization for giving me the chance to continue my baseball career.”
As a lifelong Royals fan, Gavin said being picked up by Kansas City was very satisfying.
“When I saw my name (on the draft tracker) I just thought about how far I’ve come from when I was young and I would play catch with my dad, to being picked by the Royals,” Gavin said. “Ever since I can remember I have been attending Royals games. They have been my favorite sports team my entire life.
“Being drafted by my favorite team is a surreal feeling and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of their organization.”