Kyle Lewis made Mercer history Thursday in the Major League Baseball draft.
The standout center fielder was drafted 11th by the Seattle Mariners in the first round of the draft to become Mercer’s first-ever first-round pick and the highest drafted player in the history of the Southern Conference.
“I didn’t know what to expect going into it, so I wouldn’t say I had any expectations,” Lewis said. “But once they made the call for me, it’s a perfect fit. Any place that wants me, and they wanted me, it’s a perfect fit for me, so I’m excited to get out there.”
The Mariners, likewise, were pleased to have one of the top college offensive players land in their lap.
“We thought he was going to be picked before us,” Mariners director of amateur scouting Tom McNamara posted on the team’s Twitter feed. “We’re very excited that he made it to us. He’s a 6-foot-4, middle-of-the-order potential bat that had a big year at Mercer University this year. He’s a good athlete who we believe has a lot of potential.”
Thursday capped a whirlwind couple of seasons for Lewis, who wasn’t drafted out of high school when he graduated from Shiloh. But he certainly made the most of his time at Mercer.
“They’re getting a game-changer,” Lewis said. “They’re getting an impact player. I feel like I have the ability to change games in multiple ways, so they’re getting a top of the line player.”
Lewis finished his career as the two-time Southern Conference Player of the Year, and he was this year’s Baseball America Player of the Year. He finished this season batting .395 with 20 home runs and 72 RBI.
“We’re excited for Kyle,” Mercer head coach Craig Gibson said. “It’s a great day for him and Mercer University. Selfishly we wanted him a little closer to home, but he’s going to be a great fit for the Seattle Mariners.”
Lewis had been projected to go in the first few picks, but he’s happy to be with the Mariners, and he’s ready to prove that the 10 teams that passed on him made a mistake.
“That’s extra fuel for me. That’s extra fuel for me,” Lewis said. “So I’m going to go out here and play as hard as I can, and I feel like I have all the confidence in the world to go out here and be successful.”