Sam Dyson heard his name called for the third time in five years in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft, but the USC right-hander has other things on his mind before he decides if this is going to be the time he signs with a professional team.
The redshirt junior was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the fourth round Tuesday, the highest slot for him yet after going in the 19th round out of high school in 2006 and the 10th round last year.
Dyson led a group of five USC players chosen on the draft’s second day. Junior outfielder Whit Merrifield was chosen in the ninth round by the Royals, senior right-hander Blake Cooper was picked in the 12th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks, senior shortstop Bobby Haney was selected in the 21st round by the San Francisco Giants, and redshirt sophomore left-hander Steven Neff went to the Royals in the 22nd round.
For all of them, however, the Super Regional at Coastal Carolina this weekend comes first.
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“All the guys that are college guys want to play as long as they can this season,” said Dyson, who has a 22-9 record at USC with 231 strikeouts in 240 innings. “We’re trying to look past the draft. We’re glad it’s over with. All the nerves that were building up are over. You feel relaxed and loose and ready to go.”
Merrifield, who’s batting .332 with a team-leading 12 homers and 38 RBIs, was thrilled by his first selection, which he attributed to his hard work over the previous three seasons.With 252 career hits, he is seventh on the school’s all-time list.
“It’s exciting for me. As far as the future, I’ve got a lot to think about. I’ll talk with my family and we’ll see what happens,” he said. “But right now we’re focused on the Super Regional.”
Cooper’s career-best senior season, when he posted an 11-1 mark with a 2.75 ERA, earned him his first selection in the draft. With 32 career wins, sixth all-time, he’s a sure bet to sign once USC’s season ends. The same goes for the slick-fielding Haney, whose glove got him noticed by scouts.
Neff, who also was selected out of Lancaster High three years ago, will have a decision to make about returning to USC. The hard-throwing lefty pitched 14 2/3 innings this season.
Dyson will be making his decision for the third time. But it may be the charm for him.
“I’m hoping I’ll end up signing later towards the end of the summer, or what not, when the season is over,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen. I don’t have a money figure they gave me. I’ll wait to see what happens.”