Michigan State Spartans Jeff Holm, Kurt Wunderlich Selected in Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft
Jeff Holm, Kurt Wunderlich Selected in Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft
Holm was named the 2011 Big Ten Player of the Year; Wunderlich was named 2011 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year.
EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ Michigan State senior first baseman Jeff Holm was selected in the 12th round (No. 377 overall) of the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, while senior right-handed pitcher Kurt Wunderlich was chosen in the 20th round (No. 616 overall) by the Oakland Athletics.
This marks the eighth straight year at least one Spartan has been selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
The MLB Draft resumes Wednesday at noon with rounds 31-50. Follow live at www.mlb.com.
JEFF HOLM â€“ 6-3 â€“ 210 â€“ 1B/OF â€“ St. Charles, Ill. â€“ North High School
Holm, the 2011 Big Ten Player of the Year and a third-team Louisville Slugger All-America selection by Collegiate Baseball, led the conference in RBIs with 61 and ranked second in batting average (.376) and tied for second home runs (9). He became the first Spartan to earn All-America honors since Bob Malek in 2002 and is just the second player in program history, along with Malek, to be named Big Ten Player of the Year.
Holm also became just the second first baseman at MSU to garner All-America accolades and the first since Jerry Sutton made the ABCA (American Baseball Coaches Association) third team in 1963. He was also voted by his teammates as the John Kobs Most Valuable Player as well as the Kirk Gibson Offensive Player of the Year.
â€œThis is an awesome feeling,â€ said Holm. â€œIâ€™d been listening for a couple of hours and hadnâ€™t heard anything, and as soon as I stopped paying attention, I heard Michigan State and ran over to the computer and saw my name. A lot of my teammates were into the Tigers, so I did become a Tigers fan, and playing at Comerica Park (on April 20 vs. Central Michigan) was pretty special too.
â€œIn high school it seemed like it was so far away, and four years of college seemed like such a long time, but that ended and this came up real quick,â€ said Holm of reaching his dream of playing professional baseball. â€œItâ€™s a great time in my life right now.â€
The product of St. Charles, Ill., ranked among the top 10 Big Ten leaders in 10 statistical categories (batting, slugging, on-base percentage, runs, hits, RBIs, home runs, total bases, sacrifice flies, stolen bases). He was clutch all season, as he led the team with 10 game-winning RBIs, including six in Big Ten play, while also ranking first on the team with 18 two-out RBIs.
Among Big Ten first basemen, Holm ranked first in batting, homers, RBIs, slugging (.588), on-base percentage (.441), runs (51), stolen bases (20), hits (85) and total bases (133) in 2011. His 61 RBIs rank fourth most in an MSU season, while the 85 hits are fifth most.
â€œI didnâ€™t get drafted last year, which made me upset but also motivated me a lot,â€ Holm said. â€œI played probably harder than I ever had last summer just to prove a point that I could play professionally. Fortunately, I could bring that out this year as well.
A co-captain, Holm was named Big Ten Player of the Week twice this season (March 14 and May 9) and earned National Player of the Week honors May 9 after batting .538 (7-for-13) with three homers and nine RBIs in the sweep over Purdue.
â€œI feel like Iâ€™ve gotten better every year. I definitely was happy with my performance and my teammatesâ€™ performance this season,â€ Holm said of helping lead Michigan State to its first Big Ten title since 1979. â€œIâ€™m excited to see where Iâ€™m going to be in a couple of years.â€
Defensively, Holm was arguably the top first baseman in the league, as he had the most putouts of any player in the conference (school-record 525) and made just two errors all season, good for a .996 fielding percentage; however, he will probably see action in the outfield in the minor leagues.
â€œIâ€™ll probably work at both positions,â€ said Holm, who played more than 50 games at outfield last summer when he was named the Most Valuable Player of the Prospect League. â€œIâ€™m excited to try both spots, so whatever they need me to do, Iâ€™d be more than happy to do it.â€
Holm closes his career as one of the top Spartans in school history. In the MSU career record books, Holm ranks third in doubles (43) and runs scored (154), tied for third in RBIs (150), and fifth in hits (232).
KURT WUNDERLICH â€“ 6-2 â€“ 215 â€“ RHP â€“ Des Peres, Mo. â€“ Kirkwood High School
Wunderlich, a native of Des Peres, Mo., is the highest Spartan pitcher drafted since Jeff Gerbe was chosen in the 16th round in 2006.
â€œIâ€™m a little bit speechless,â€ said Wunderlich. â€œIt feels good that the nerves are all gone and that I got drafted. I was trying to do anything and everything not to watch. My mom called me and told me â€“ she was watching it at work. Iâ€™m just smiling because Iâ€™m so happy right now.â€
Wunderlich finished his senior season with an impressive 10-2 record and became the first Spartan to win Big Ten Pitcher of the Year honors. The 10 victories were a career high for Wunderlich, led the Big Ten in 2011, and tied for second most in an MSU season. The first-team All-Big Ten selection also set a school record with 101 2/3 innings pitched this season.
Michigan State posted a 13-2 record when Wunderlich started, including a 7-1 mark in Big Ten play as the Spartans won their first Big Ten Championship since 1979. He was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week twice and threw a complete game shutout over Northwestern in his final appearance at McLane Baseball Stadium.
In his last game as a Spartan, Wunderlich struck out five and gave up just one run over eight innings as MSU defeated Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament; for his performance against the Boilermakers, Wunderlich was named to the all-tournament team. He was also voted the Robin Roberts Most Valuable Pitcher by his teammates.
â€œI focused in better this year,â€ Wunderlich said of his success his senior season. â€œA couple of things fell into place for me, and I was more confident with my stuff. I let the defense do what they had to do â€“ they really picked me up.â€
Wunderlich won 26 games in his career, which ranks third in the school record books. In addition, his 258 2/3 innings are sixth most in school history. After starting out as a reliever as a freshman and sophomore, Wunderlich compiled an 18-5 record as a starter his final two seasons in East Lansing.
â€œIf Iâ€™m in the bullpen, Iâ€™m in the bullpen; if Iâ€™m starting, Iâ€™m starting,â€ said Wunderlich of what role he envisions himself having in the minor leagues. â€œI just have to get adjusted to pro ball. I donâ€™t have a preference, I just want to pitch.â€