June 6, 2014
HOUSTON - The Rice baseball duo of Zech Lemond and Skyler Ewing were both selected by west coast teams on Friday's second day of the 2014 Major League Baseball amateur draft.
Lemond was the selected by the San Diego Padres in the third round as the 86th player chosen overall. Ewing went three rounds later in the sixth to the San Francisco Giants as the 187th pick. In 2013 a total of five Owls were selected through the first 17 rounds of the draft. Lemond's selection in the third round is the highest for Rice in two years when J.T. Chargois was picked by the Twins in the second round (72nd player overall).
Lemond had been previously drafted as a high school senior in 2011. This season he made 15 appearances, with 10 in relief and five starts for a total of 53.2 innings. He began the year in his familiar spot in the bullpen as the team "stopper," posting a 1.64 ERA with three saves in 11.0 innings over five appearances, but moved into a starter's role on March 7 when another Owl starting pitcher was sidelined for the remainder of the season. He immediately made a positive impact by going 2-0 in five starts while maintaining a 1.25 ERA in 36.0 innings. Lemond averaged 7.1 innings as a "Friday night" starter (which in college baseball is traditionally reserved for the staff's ace). As a starter the Houston native held opponents to a composite .197 batting average with 36 strikeouts in the 36 innings and maintained a 3.3-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. Lemond was sidelined for almost six weeks midway through the year, but returned to the mound on May 17 with 1.0 innings in relief before a sizeable contingent of pro scouts on-hand at Rice's Reckling Park. His last five appearances of the season were all out of the bullpen - a total of 6.2 innings where he maintained a 1.35 ERA with four strikeouts. He was Rice's winning pitcher in the Owls' May 30 NCAA Tournament victory over Atlantic 10 champion George Mason University. For his collegiate career Lemond has tallied a 12-3 record, a 1.91 ERA and a total of 155 strikeouts in 165.0 innings over 62 Rice appearances.
Skyler Ewing was one of the break-through players in college baseball, earning All-NCAA Regional, Conference USA All-Tournament, All-Conference USA (first team) honors, as well as the National Hitter of the Week on Feb. 17. He started 61 of the team's 62 games, including 54 at first base where the team was 39-15, but he was also versatile enough to contribute seven starts at catcher (in order to give teammate John Clay Reeves a breather). The Arlington, Texas, native led the conference in runs scored (57), total bases (124), chances (611) and put outs (554), and shared the league's lead in RBI (48). He finished second in the conference in hits (81) and home runs (9), and also ranked among the C-USA leaders in slugging percentage (3rd, .512), hitting (4th, .335), doubles (tied-5th, 16), on-base percentage (5th, .403) and walks (tied-9th, 29). Ewing batted .373 with runners on base and .397 with men in scoring position. He batted as high as third in the lineup 30 times (where the team went 21-9), and managed to reach base at a .417 pace when leading off an inning. Ewing collected two or more hits in a game a team-best 25 times, including a career-best four hits twice (vs. Florida International and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi). The slugger maintained a career-best nine-game hitting streak March 18-30, and reached base in 12-straight games during one April stretch. His collegiate season ended with a five-game hitting streak in which he was 10-for-20 with 10 runs scored, two home runs and a three doubles for a .950 slugging percentage. He tallied career-best eight total bases in win at Middle Tennessee, and hit two doubles in a game three different times. Ewing knocked a grand slam against Purdue (Feb. 23), where he finished the day with six RBI - the most by an Owl all season. He drove-in two or more runs in a game a team-best 13 times.
The MLB Draft concludes on Saturday, June 7, with a total of 30 more rounds.