Star UConn pitcher Anthony Kay was selected by the New York Mets with the 31st pick in the 2016 MLB Draft Thursday night. The pick came after a stellar season in which Kay frequently drew scouts’ attention, shooting him up mock draft boards.
The left-hander finished 2016 with a 9-2 record and a 2.65 earned run average over 17 starts as the Huskies’ No. 1 starting pitcher. He was named the American Athletic Conference pitcher of the year, and the MVP of the AAC Championship, in which the Huskies brought home the conference title and secured an NCAA berth.
This past season capped an excellent UConn career for Kay, in which he recorded 263 strikeouts to break Matt Barnes’ school record. The Mets drafted Kay in the 29th round right out of high school, but he elected instead to play baseball in Storrs. Three years later, the Mets took Kay once again, this time with a compensation pick that was given to the team due to the departure of second baseman Daniel Murphy to the Nationals this past off season.
Kay is the third UConn player to be drafted by the Mets since 2013, following L.J. Mazzillli in 2013 and Vinny Siena in 2015 and the fourth first-round pick in UConn baseball history. He joins fellow Long Island native and current Boston College right-handed pitcher Justin Dunn (No. 19 overall) as the Mets’ 2016 first-round picks.
Two days later, three of Kay’s teammates heard their names called on third day of the MLB Draft as Jack Sundberg, Pat Ruotolo and Bobby Melley heard their name called to begin their road to the show.
Sundberg was the first Husky off the board on Saturday, taken in 26th round by the Washington Nationals with 784th overall pick.
The speedy centerfielder finished his four years in Storrs second all-time in career steals with 82 and ranks in the top 10 in program history in runs and walks, and was a member of the American Athletic Conference Second team.
Ruotolo was the next UConn player selected, taken in the 28th round with 815th pick. With a fastball that touches the mid-90s and an unorthodox delivery, Ruotolo put together three strong years, striking out nearly 150 batters in just over 120 innings.
This season, Ruotolo racked up 16 saves and has 72 in his career in just three seasons, the fifth-most in program history. As a junior, Ruotolo has the option to return to not sign with the Giants and return to UConn for his senior season.
Melley rounded out the UConn draft picks for 2016 after he was taken by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 34th round with 1,020th overall pick. The senior first baseman racked up 290 career hits during his time at UConn, and displayed a surge in power during his senior season, where he hit 11 home runs after hitting just five in his first three years. Melley led the American in runs in his final season with 53 and joined Sundberg and Ruotolo as a member of the American Athletic Conference Second Team in 2016.
The four selections now give the Huskies 88 MLB draft picks all-time and 42 under current head coach Jim Penders.
Tyler Keating is associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.