Michigan State’s baseball team enjoyed its biggest output in the 50-year history of the major league draft.
A program-record eight Spartans were selected by big league teams in the MLB First-Year Player Draft. In 1966, there were seven picked — five in the second modern draft and two more in the now-defunct June secondary phase.
On Wednesday, six MSU players were selected — Anthony Misiewicz, Cam Vieaux, Jeff Kinley, Mick VanVossen, Blaise Salter and Mark Weist. On Tuesday, junior outfielder Cam Gibson was taken by the Detroit Tigers in the fifth round and senior first baseman Ryan Krill went in the ninth round to the New York Yankees.
“They’ve all earned their opportunities here, and they’re all first-class kids,” said Jake Boss, who has had 21 players selected during his seven seasons as MSU’s head coach. “I’m just excited for their futures.”
The three underclassmen — Gibson, Misiewicz and Vieaux — have until July 17 to decide whether they will sign a pro contract and leave MSU or return for their senior seasons. Gibson told the Lansing State Journal on Tuesday that he expects to sign with the Tigers.
Two MSU left-handed pitchers were the first taken Wednesday and now will have decisions to make.
The Seattle Mariners took junior Misiewicz during Wednesday’s 18th round of the MLB draft with the 545th overall pick. A few minutes later, the Detroit Tigers used the 580th overall selection to pick redshirt sophomore Vieaux in the 19th round.
In the 28th round, it was two seniors’ turns. Left-hander Kinley went to the Miami Marlins with the 836th pick, then right-handed starter VanVossen went to the Washington Nationals at No. 854.
Then in the 31st round, the Tigers again turned to East Lansing and drafted senior Salter with the 940th pick of the 40-round draft. And All-Big Ten senior third baseman Weist became eight Spartan drafted, going in the 37th round to the San Francisco Giants as the 1,116th pick.
“We obviously accomplished a lot as a group,” VanVossen said. “We may not have reached the ultimate goal of a Big Ten or tournament title, but that just shows the amount of talent we really had. It’s definitely very cool to see. I’m proud of every single guy, and hopefully I see them along the way.”
Misiewicz, a 6-foot-1 and 187-pounder from Chesterfield, has mostly pitched out of the Spartans’ bullpen during his first three seasons but has also started 12 games. He has pitched 168 1/3 innings in his 66 career appearances with a 3.26 ERA and a 13-12 overall record.
Baseball America’s 14th-best player in the state for this year’s draft was 5-4 with a 3.80 ERA, 58 strikeouts and 31 walks over 68 2/3 innings this spring. Eight of Misiewicz’s 18 appearances were starts. Opponents hit .207 against him this season and .222 for his career.
Vieaux, a Novi native, entered the rotation a year ago after redshirting in 2013 and has started 25 of his 33 career appearances. He is 10-12 with a 3.35 ERA in two seasons, including a 4-7 mark over 15 starts this spring. The the 6-4, 191-pounder had a 3.49 ERA with 71 strikeouts and 32 walks over 90 1/3 innings.
Both Misiewicz (Cotuit) and Vieaux (Harwich) are pitching in the prestigious wooden bat Cape Cod League this summer. Vieaux could be drafted two more times and Misiewicz again next year should they return to MSU.
Four Spartan seniors also had their names called later Wednesday.
• Kinley, a redshirt senior, missed most of the 2013 season after having shoulder surgery after gaining attention from pro scouts. The 6-1, 185-pound Saginaw native has returned to form and showed he can pitch either out of the bullpen — he leaves as MSU’s career saves leader with 20 — or in the rotation, as he did down the stretch over the final month of this season. He went 4-3 this spring with five starts, posting a 3.56 ERA and 55 strikeouts over 55 2/3 innings.
• VanVossen gets a fresh start after a tough senior season during which he went 4-5 over 14 starts with a 6.00 ERA, 50 strikeouts and 43 walks in 69 innings. Over his first three seasons, though, the 6-3, 210-pound Ada native proved to be a reliable workhorse — he was a third-team All-Big Ten pick in 2014 after going 8-3 with a 2.82 ERA and 77 strikeouts over 99 innings, holding opponents to a .227 batting average in a team-high 15 starts that year. The Texas Rangers drafted VanVossen out of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central High in the 49th-round of the 2011 draft.
• Salter, like VanVossen, struggled as a senior after a solid first three seasons as a DH/first baseman/catcher. He hit a career-low .268 this spring with six homers and 40 RBIs: A 38th-round pick by Detroit in 2011 out of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s High, Salter is the the grandson of Tigers catching great Bill Freehan. The 6-5, 245-pounder was a third-team All-America selection at designated hitter as a junior, and Salter finished his MSU career with a .308 batting average, 19 homers, 139 RBIs and a school record 55 doubles. Detroit announced him as a first baseman.
• Weist’s selection wrapped up the day, capping his one season in Green and White with another honor. The Saline native transferred to MSU from NAIA Spring Arbor University for his final season, becoming an All-Big Ten first-team selection at third base by hitting .346 with six home runs, 37 RBIs and 11 steals this spring. Earlier in the day, both Weist and Krill were named to the American Baseball Coaches Association’s Mideast All-Region First Team.