June 5, 2012
TUCSON, Ariz. - Five juniors on the Arizona baseball team were selected in the first nine rounds of the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player on Tuesday.
Alex Mejia, the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 150th overall pick in the fourth round. Mejia, a finalist for the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year award, is hitting .367 with 52 runs scored and 51 runs batted in this season. His 88 hits are tied for most on the club and for most of any player in the Pac-12 Conference.
All-Pac-12 outfielder Robert Refsnyder was drafted by the New York Yankees with the 187th overall selection in the fifth round. Refsnyder leads Arizona with 61 runs batted in and 28 extra base hits, including six home runs. The Wildcats' starting right fielder for all 58 games to date, Refsnyder was drafted as a second baseman by the Yankees. In 2010, Refsnyder started 18 games at second base.
Kurt Heyer, a three-time All-Pac-12 selection and a Louisville Slugger second team All-American, was chosen by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 210th overall pick in the sixth round. A right-hander, Heyer has thrown more innings than any pitcher in the nation to date, and boasts a career-best 12-2 record with a 2.03 earned run average - lowest among Pac-12 starters. Heyer has thrown seven complete games in 2012, the most for a Wildcat hurler in a single season since Lance Dickson had seven in 1990.
Seth Mejias-Brean, an All-Pac-12 selection as a third baseman, was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds with the 262nd overall pick selection in the eighth round. Mejias-Brean has a team-leading 20 doubles and ranks second on the club with 56 runs batted in entering the weekend's super regional. The Tucson native has a career-best .363 batting average with 86 total base hits this season.
Centerfield Joey Rickard was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays with the 302nd overall selection in the ninth round. Rickard, who at one point played in 156 consecutive games (sixth-longest in program history), is hitting .326 with 54 runs scored and a team-leading 17 stolen bases. Rickard's 75 base hits on the year mark the third-straight season he has reached the benchmark.
The juniors, who have qualified for NCAA Regional play in each of their three seasons, will make their first NCAA Super Regional appearances this weekend. Arizona (41-17) hosts St. John's (40-21) in a best-of-three series at Hi Corbett Field beginning on Friday at noon (MST).
Tuesday's group of draftees pushes Arizona's total to 52 under head coach Andy Lopez, who took over the program in 2002. Of those, 10 have played in the Major Leagues.
All-time, 220 Arizona baseball players have been drafted, including 81 in the last 14 seasons. Of the 220 selections, 58 have been taken in the first five rounds.