EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Three Michigan State baseball players were selected on the third and final day of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft on Wednesday, June 14.
Outfielder Brandon Hughes was selected in the 16th round (pick number 495 overall) by the Chicago Cubs. Relief pitcher Nathan Witt was chosen in the 17th round (pick number 520 overall) by the Los Angeles Dodgers, while fellow relief pitcher Joe Mockbee was tabbed in the 29th round (pick number 867 overall) by the Chicago White Sox.
Hughes, a junior from Sterling Heights, Michigan, earned second-team All-Big Ten honors this season. He was voted co-recipient of the MSU John Kobs Most Valuable Player team award, along with being voted as the Kirk Gibson Offensive Player of the Year and the Danny Litwhiler Defensive Player of the Year for the Spartans. Hughes led the B1G and ranked seventh in the NCAA with 30 stolen bases, setting a new MSU single-season record. He also led the B1G and ranked third in the NCAA with 0.63 stolen bases per game.
The Spartan center fielder hit three home runs at Illinois on March 26, including two left-handed and one right-handed, becoming just one of three players in the NCAA to hit a home run from each side of the plate this season. He was named Collegiate Baseball's National Players Of The Week as well as a USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Gold Standard Performance of the Week on March 26 for his performance at Illinois. He also led the B1G for most RBI in a single-game with seven vs. Illinois on March 26 as part of his three home run performance. With five HR in conference games, Hughes was tied for eighth in the B1G only stats.
Hughes finished the season with a .330 batting average, which was second on MSU and tied for 12th in the B1G, and was also tied for ninth in the league with 67 hits. He had an MSU season-best 15-game hit streak from April 26 - May 19, snapped in the season finale, but he did draw a walk in that game to finish the season with a 16-game on base streak. He also tallied 12 doubles, one triple and five home runs, totaling 35 RBI. Hughes also posted a .473 slugging percentage and a .382 on base percentage. Defensively, the Spartan center fielder registered four assists in making 111 putouts.
Witt, a redshirt sophomore from Clarkston, Michigan, posted a 2-0 record with a 4.37 ERA in 22.2 innings of work. Returning to action after missing the 2015 and 2016 seasons due to injuries, Witt fired 19 strikeouts on the season, including a season-best four punchouts in 2.2 IP vs. No. 9 Clemson on March 8. Witt allowed just two earned runs in his first 14.1 innings of work this season.
He logged his two wins of the season in back-to-back appearances, earning his first career win on April 26 vs. Toledo with 1.0 inning pitched. Witt registered his second win on May 6 vs. Iowa, getting one out in only batter faced. The career-best four punchout outing was one of six multi-strikeout appearances for Witt, as he also had three strikeouts on three different occasions, at Central Michigan on May 16, at Illinois on March 24 and vs. Cornell on March 19.
Mockbee, a senior from Akron, Ohio, led MSU with 29 appearances this season, leading the B1G regular-season statistics. He posted a 4-4 record with a 5.15 ERA in 43.2 IP on the season, registering one save and one combined shutout. Mockbee tied for second on the team with four wins. He made his only start of the season vs. No. 9 Clemson on March 8 and earned his only save of the season on April 14 vs. Ohio State, part of a combined 2-0 shutout win.
This season Mockbee chalked up 56 strikeouts, highlighted by five appearances with five or more Ks, topped by season-high seven punchouts in the season-opener on Feb. 18 at Abilene Christian. Mockbee also fired six Ks at UNC Greensboro (Feb. 25), vs. Ohio State (April 15) and at No. 15 Michigan (May 19), as well as five strikeouts at No. 25 Nebraska (May 14).
The three Spartans drafted during Wednesday's final rounds join teammate Alex Troop, who was selected in the ninth round on Tuesday.
This season's four draft selections in the 2017 MLB Draft give MSU 30 draft selections under head coach Jake Boss Jr., including four or more in each of the last three years.
MSU had four juniors selected in the 2016 draft: Cam Vieaux (sixth round, Pittsburgh), Jordan Zimmerman (seventh round, Los Angeles Angles), Dakota Mekkes (10th round, Chicago Cubs) and Matt Byars (24th round, Minnesota). The year prior, a school-record eight players were taken in 2015: Cam Gibson (fifth round, Detroit), Ryan Krill (ninth round, New York Yankees), Anthony Misiewicz (18th round, Seattle), Cam Vieaux (19th round, Detroit), Jeff Kinley (28th round, Miami), Mick VanVossen (28th round, Washington), Blaise Salter (31st round, Detroit) and Mark Weist (37th round, San Francisco).
Spartans Selected in the 2017 MLB Draft
Alex Troop (Washington, 9th round, 283 overall)
Brandon Hughes (Chicago Cubs, 16th round, 495 overall)
Nathan Witt (Los Angeles Dodgers, 17th round, 520 overall)
Joe Mockbee (Chicago White Sox, 29th round, 867 overall)