Georgia Southern baseball players Chris Beck, Eric Phillips and Jarret Leverett were selected in the second, sixth and 15th rounds, respectively, of the Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday, a day after GSU’s Victor Roache was selected in the first round.
Beck, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound right-handed pitcher from Jefferson, was drafted in the second round (76th overall) by the Chicago White Sox.
Phillips, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound shortstop from Carrollton, was drafted in the sixth round (205th overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Leverett, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound left-handed pitcher from Eatonton, was drafted in the 15th round (460th overall) by the Minnesota Twins.
They join Roache, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound outfielder from Ypsilanti, Mich., who was drafted in the first round (28th overall) by the Milwaukee Brewers.
“It is a blessing,” Beck said. “There are a lot of college guys, and even high school guys that will be going to college, who will end their careers here shortly. I’m very, very blessed and thank the Lord that my career gets to continue. The White Sox are a good organization. They have very good pitching as well. They ran some guys through the minors pretty quickly with (Addison) Reed and Chris Sale, so they have a successful track record, so it’s a really good organization to go to.”
Beck, a junior, said he will not return to GSU for his senior season. Phillips and Leverett were seniors this past season. Roache, a junior, likely will not return to GSU for his senior
season. The 28th pick in last year’s draft received a $1.134 million signing bonus.
“My GSU career came to its end,” Beck said.
Before the 2012 season began, Baseball America projected Beck to be the seventh player drafted. Beck’s draft stock fell because he had an inconsistent season, finishing with a 6-7 record and a 3.91 earned-run average in 16 starts. The consensus preseason All-American struck out 115 batters, walked 29, and allowed 117 hits.
“Everything is in God’s hands,” Beck said. “There’s a reason I was here at Georgia Southern, that I didn’t go to UGA. There’s a reason I didn’t sign out of high school. And only God knew why I chose that. To end up here and now, there’s a reason I didn’t go to any other organization beside the White Sox. That’s how I have to look at it, you know? It was out of my hands. I just have to trust the path that I’ve been led on, and trust the organization, the White Sox, to develop me. You can look at it in the wrong way, especially somebody in my situation who is getting to go play professional baseball. There is no reason to look at it in a negative way at all.”
Beck produced a 9-5 record and a 3.23 ERA as a sophomore. He was 2-4 with an 8.31 ERA as a freshman. Beck was named Most Outstanding Player of the Southern Conference Tournament in 2011 as a sophomore.
Only Monday’s first round of the MLB Draft was televised by MLB Network but Beck and his family hooked a computer to a television at their home Tuesday and watched the live streaming feed from MLB.com on their TV.
“We were talking with a couple of teams right there, Cleveland, especially since they had picked me in high school, so we had a good feeling there,” Beck said. “My advisor was on the phone with them. And Oakland, because they drafted some guys out of Georgia Southern before. We kind of made the deal before I got picked, but it wasn’t anything set in stone.
“Just to see my name, I was at home in my living room, to see it go across the screen, it was really just a big sigh of relief. And with my family here, it was really awesome to be a part of. We got a cord and hooked it up from the laptop to the TV so everybody didn’t have to stare at the computer screen.”
Beck said he and the White Sox will finalize a contract “probably in the next five to seven days” and then he will receive his assignment of where to report. Beck, Roache and Phillips remained in contact throughout the draft via text messaging and Twitter. Beck said he and Roache are “trying to set up a Skype session here shortly so we can talk to each other” via computers.
Phillips said he was sitting in his living room with his parents when the Blue Jays called him.
“They called me a couple of picks before (the 205th pick) and asked if I was ready to go, and I said, ‘Of course, I am,'" Phillips said. "There was a draft show going (on TV) and my name popped up. It said, ‘Just drafted: Eric Phillips, Georgia Southern.’ My mom took a picture of it. It was unreal.”
Phillips this past season became GSU’s career hits leader. He helped GSU to two SoCon Tournament titles and three championship game appearances, including an appearance as a senior. Phillips finished his GSU career with 339 hits, a .366 batting average, 66 doubles, 20 home runs and 194 runs batted in.
“It’s an amazing feeling to get drafted this early in the draft,” said Phillips, who improved his batting average all four seasons at GSU and hit .391 with a career-best 24 doubles and 54 RBIs in 2012. “Coming into the draft, (teams) told me I might go 7-10, 10-12 (rounds). A couple of teams were showing interest. I got a few calls saying I was going to go in the sixth round if somebody didn’t get me, and then the Blue Jays called. It’s just a surreal feeling.”
Phillips said he is awaiting more details from the Blue Jays but has a flight booked to Canada for Saturday morning. He said a Blue Jays scout was en route to his home Tuesday night so he could sign a contract.
Leverett was 4-2 this past season with a 2.81 ERA. He struck out 58 batters, walked 17 and allowed 35 hits.
The MLB Draft will end today after rounds 16-40.
Noell Barnidge may be reached at (912) 489-9408.