Lincoln – Seven Husker baseball players, including six pitchers, were taken on the second day of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft Friday afternoon.
The Huskers picked during the final 45 rounds included pitchers Matt Foust (sixth, Pittsburgh), Tony Watson (ninth, Pittsburgh), Luke Wertz (13th, Philadelphia), Steve Edlefsen (16th, San Francisco), Charlie Shirek (23rd, Chicago) and Thad Weber (35th, Cincinnati). In addition, senior first baseman Andrew Brown was an 18th-round selection by the St. Louis Cardinals.
The eight selections ties for the second-highest single-season total in school history and was one off the school record of nine set in 1983. It also marks the eighth straight year where at least four Huskers were selected.
The seven pitchers taken in the draft also marked the highest single-season total in school history, breaking the previous record of five set in both 1983 and 2004. Of the seven hurlers selected, only three had been drafted previously, and each of them significantly improved their draft standing after pitching in the Husker program. It was also the first time that Nebraska had three pitchers chosen in the first 10 rounds.
Watson was the second Husker taken Friday morning, as he was picked in the ninth round (No. 278 overall) by the Pittsburgh Pirates. This is the third time Watson has heard his name called in the draft, as he was pick picked in the 23rd round in high school and in the 17th round in 2006. A three-year letterwinner who has a career 22-7 record at Nebraska, Watson ranks on the school’s top-10 lists in wins (sixth), innings pitched (244.0, 10th) and starts (35, 10th). This spring, he compiled a 6-4 record and a 4.09 ERA in 15 starts, as he ranked first in the Big 12 in complete games (two) and eighth in innings pitched (99.0). A second-team All-Big 12 selection, Watson was a three-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Week in 2007, highlighted by a two-hit shutout of fifth-ranked Texas.
Right-hander Luke Wertz capped a strong junior season with his selection in the 13th round by the Philadelphia Phillies. An honorable-mention All-Big 12 selection, Wertz went 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA in 16 appearances, striking out 66 over 60.1 innings of work. He ranked seventh among all conference pitchers in both ERA and opponent batting average (.232). After working out of the bullpen for most of his career, Wertz was in the Huskers’ weekend rotation during the stretch run, picking up series-clinching wins over Baylor and Kansas. His best outing came in his first start of the year, when he struck out a career-high 10 hitters and allowed one unearned run over 7.1 innings against Kansas State on April 29. In league play, he was 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA, highlighted by a 23 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.
Edlefsen, who was a 41st-round pick as an infielder by Boston in 2005, enjoyed a solid campaign in his first year as a pitcher, going 0-1 with four saves and a 4.10 ERA in 23 appearances. He was second on the team in both saves and appearances and held opponents to a .226 batting average in 26.1 innings of work. He earned a pair of saves in the series win at No. 22 Alabama earlier in the season before moving to a set-up role for the final half of the campaign. In addition to his work on the mound, he saw time at third base and the outfield, playing in 13 contests.
The only senior on the 2007 Huskers, Brown was taken in the 18th round by the St. Louis Cardinals. He earned honorable-mention All-Big 12 honors, hitting .329 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs, ranking fifth in the league with 19 doubles. He was named to the NCAA Tempe Regional All-Tournament team after hitting .471 with a homer, three RBIs and four runs scored in helping the Huskers to the regional title game. A second-team All-Big 12 utility player in 2006, Brown totaled 19 homers and 74 RBIs in his two seasons at Nebraska.
Shirek continued the run on Husker pitching, as he was taken by the Chicago White Sox in the 23rd round. The 6-foot-3. 205-pound right-hander was eligible for the draft, as he is in his third season at Nebraska. This spring, Shirek was 2-7 with a 6.39 ERA in 13 appearances, including seven starts. He struck out 42 and walked 15 over 50.2 innings of work. His best start of the year came at Texas Tech, when he allowed one run on five hits while striking out a season-high seven Red Raiders. Shirek also fanned seven in a five-inning relief stint against No. 13 Oklahoma State on April 8.
Weber became the seventh Husker hurler drafted with his selection by the Cincinnati Reds in the 35th round. He finished his first year at NU with a 1-2 record with three saves and a 5.62 ERA in 21 appearances, allowing only three of 16 inherited runners to score on the season. He went 11 appearances before allowing an earned run and struck out 30 hitters over 24.1 innings on the mound. In addition to his pitching, Weber also hit .257 with seven RBIs in 10 games at first base and designated hitter.
Huskers Selected in the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft
Player Pos. Round Pick Team Drew Bowman LHP Fifth 169 Cincinnati Reds Matt Foust RHP Sixth 188 Pittsburgh Pirates Tony Watson LHP Ninth 278 Pittsburgh Pirates Luke Wertz RHP 13th 413 Philadelphia Phillies Steve Edlefsen RHP 16th 494 San Francisco Giants Andrew Brown 1B 18th 562 St. Louis Cardinals Charlie Shirek RHP 23rd 719 Chicago White Sox Thad Weber RHP 35th 1,065 Cincinnati Reds
San Francisco Giants
St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago White Sox