LINCOLN — From their homes across North America, three Nebraska juniors absorbed the kind of news they had been dreaming of their entire baseball lives.
Jake Meyers was returning from a workout in Omaha when his girlfriend alerted him with a text. From his house in Puerto Rico, Luis Alvarado was watching TV when his grandfather told him. Scott Schreiber was back in Wisconsin with his parents when he received the official call.
The message, in one form or another: You’ve been selected in the Major League Baseball draft.
The two-way standout Meyers was the first Husker to go late Wednesday morning when the Houston Astros took him in the 13th round (No. 391 overall). Moments later, the Seattle Mariners claimed Alvarado — an outfielder and co-closer this spring — in the same round at No. 393. Schreiber, who led Nebraska in most hitting categories this year, came off the board in the 26th round (No. 769 overall) to the Tampa Bay Rays.
As juniors, all have until July 15 to figure out whether to sign a professional contract or return to school for their senior seasons. All told The World-Herald on Wednesday evening that the size of the financial offer they receive will be a key factor. Meyers and Alvarado plan to decide in the next few days, while Schreiber said he may need “a few weeks.”
“I have to ultimately decide if I want to go the pro route or go back to Nebraska,” Meyers said. “I haven’t necessarily decided at this point, but I would absolutely love to go either way. It’s a win-win situation.”
The trio were the only three current Huskers taken in the draft, which completed its three-day run Wednesday with Rounds 11-40 and 900 of the 1,215 total selections. Graduated senior first baseman Ben Miller, who stayed at Nebraska after being chosen in the 32nd round by Pittsburgh last June, was not drafted.
Meyers led Nebraska’s regular starting rotation in ERA (3.42) while compiling an 8-2 record and 57-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 84-1/3 innings. Offensively, he ranked fourth on the squad in batting average (.297) and stole 20 bases in 22 tries. The Omaha Westside graduate also excelled in center field, making just one error while playing in 53 of Nebraska’s 58 games this spring.
Houston was one of “most” teams that evaluated him as a center fielder, Meyers said. The lifelong Red Sox fan thought the draft began at noon Wednesday — it was actually 11 a.m. — and thus was busy when his name dropped. A deluge of congratulatory texts and tweets awaited him when he checked his phone.
Meyers’ father, Paul, was drafted by San Francisco in the fourth round in 1986.
“My girlfriend just asked me, ‘Weren’t you just drafted by the Astros?’ That’s when I went and checked, and I was,” said Jake Meyers, a third-team All-American according to Baseball America. “It was an unbelievable feeling at that point. It was a done deal and something I dreamed about growing up.”
Alvarado said all teams viewed him as a pitcher in the draft. He threw for the Huskers for the first time this spring and produced strong results, posting 10 saves and allowing three earned runs in 15-2/3 innings (1.72 ERA). He struck out 15 and sported a fastball clocking in the low-to-mid 90s. The regular left fielder also swatted a pair of homers, hit .283 and doubled 12 times in 57 contests.
Chosen out of high school by Boston in the 33rd round, Alvarado said he had no good feel for where and when he might go this time. A Red Sox fan like Meyers, he said all he knows about the Mariners is that he once played with the brother of their closer, Edwin Diaz. If he chooses to return to Nebraska, he will play in a summer league.
“I wasn’t expecting anything,” Alvarado said. “It was my first year pitching, so it was kind of hard to say where I was going to land with not having many innings (pitched). I’m just happy I got drafted and got the opportunity. I’m going to sleep on it, talk to family. I’ll probably decide (Thursday) or in the next few days.”
Schreiber was the least elated of the three after he fell 420 spots (14 rounds) further than projected by Baseball America. The 6-foot-3 power hitter had figured on being drafted Tuesday but then waited into Wednesday afternoon before the Rays notified him.
Schreiber’s brother, Brad, is a pitcher in the Tampa Bay organization who currently plays for Double-A Montgomery in Alabama.
“I was pretty disappointed that I dropped that far down, but getting drafted isn’t something that happens to everyone, so I was obviously pretty excited about that,” Schreiber said. “I’m going to go play summer ball and kind of see what kind of offer they give me and go from there.”
Splitting time between designated hitter and right field, the All-Big Ten first-teamer led the Huskers in batting average (.330), home runs (seven), doubles (15), RBIs (51) and slugging percentage (.494) while playing in 57 games. The homer total fell well short of the 16 he swatted as a sophomore, but he said the disparity this time had more to do with the small sample size of a college baseball season than anything else.
“I feel like I had a good year this year,” Schreiber said. “I feel like I’m a better player than I performed, but it’s not like I underperformed. I thought I played at a pretty high level.”
Creighton juniors Rollie Lacy, Keith Rogalla picked 10 picks apart early in MLB draft; David Gerber gets taken late
Three Creighton pitchers were selected on the final day of the MLB draft Wednesday, marking the third time in four years that the Jays have had three players picked.
The Chicago Cubs used the final selection in the 11th round (345th overall) to draft junior Rollie Lacy, an All-Big East performer last season. The right-hander was CU’s Friday night ace, recording a 2.54 ERA while striking out 83 batters in 88-2/3 innings. He’s the highest drafted Bluejay pitcher since Ty Blach went in the fifth round five years ago.
Junior Keith Rogalla wasn’t too far behind Lacy on Wednesday. Ten picks, actually. With the 10th choice in the 12th round (355th overall), the Los Angeles Angels drafted Rogalla, the hard-throwing right-hander who struck out 70 batters and held opposing hitters to a .231 average in 71-1/3 innings of work last season.
Then came senior reliever David Gerber. The Jays’ career saves leader will be joining the Seattle Mariners, who drafted him with the 28th pick of the 29th round (No. 873 overall). Gerber’s brother Mike also played for CU. He was a 15th-round pick in 2014 and is now part of the Detroit Tigers organization.
Both Lacy and Rogalla do now have decisions to make — since they both still have one year of collegiate eligibility remaining. They are each expected to sign professional contracts, though. The deadline to sign is July 15.
If Lacy and Rogalla end up going pro, the Jays will be replacing their entire 2017 weekend rotation next season. Left-hander Jeff Albrecht just ended his CU career. Gerber and that talented trio of starters logged a combined 204-2/3 innings this past season, accounting for nearly half of Creighton’s total (439-1/3).