There were 22 picks remaining on the opening night of the Major League Baseball draft when Oregon pitcher Ryne Nelson was selected in the second round by the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.
“It was pretty stressful watching that, I couldn’t imagine sleeping through another night waiting for my name,” Nelson said after being taken with the 56th overall selection.
Spencer Steer had to wait an extra day to hear his name, but the suspense ended quickly Tuesday morning when the UO third baseman was taken by Minnesota in the third round with the 90th pick.
“It’s definitely taken a bit of a toll on me,” Steer said of the uncertainly heading into the draft. “Once the season ended and I didn’t have baseball playoffs to distract me, it has been stressful. Obviously I am blessed to be in the position to be drafted, so it was a good kind of stress. I’m happy.”
Nelson has already agreed to terms with Arizona and will skip his senior season with the Ducks. The slot value for his pick was $1,276,400 and although he could not confirm his signing bonus, he noted “it was definitely worth it."
Steer said he is close to finalizing terms with the Twins and skipping his senior season at Oregon. The slot value for his selection is $657,600.
Steer boosted his draft value during the spring while earning all-Pac-12 honors when he led the Ducks with a .349 batting average and 57 RBIs and sharing the team lead with six home runs. He started all 56 games for Oregon and was a Pac-12 all-defensive selection after beginning the season at shortstop before returning to third base.
In three seasons at Oregon, Steer batted .297 with 12 home runs and 129 RBIs and scored 93 runs. He set school records for single-season and career RBIs.
Steer said he originally heard he might be picked by the Diamondbacks before getting taken by the Twins, who drafted him as a shortstop.
“They were definitely a team that came on late,” he said. “I met with their area scout in the fall, but then did not hear from them until the end of the season. It kind of came out of nowhere.”
Nelson was home in Nevada watching the draft with his family when his adviser called to say the Diamondbacks were going to draft him.
“I didn’t tell my family what was going on, I waited for them to see it on TV and be surprised,” Nelson said. “They all freaked out so it was pretty fun.”
The 6-foot-3, 184-pound right-hander was an all-Pac-12 selection who led the conference with 104 strikeouts in 65 innings during the regular season.
Nelson went 3-4 with a 4.29 ERA in 23 games this season, including four starts, before being moved to the bullpen.
He expects Arizona to use him as a starter early in his pro career which could begin this summer with the Hillsboro Hops, a short-season Class A affiliate of the Diamondbacks.
“This has always been the dream and everything I have done to this point was with that in mind,” Nelson said. “It is nice to see it all pay off for me and my family.”
Colin Barber, an outfielder from Pleasant Valley High School in Chico, Calif. who committed to play at Oregon, was drafted in the fourth round by Houston. The 6-foot, 185-pounder was the first player to commit to Oregon’s recruiting class. The slot value for the 136th overall selection is $410,100 if he chooses to sign with the Astros.
Oregon State had a third player drafted Tuesday when Kansas City took pitcher Grant Gambrell in the third round with the 80th overall selection.
The junior right-hander went 5-3 with a 2.83 ERA in 70 innings with 80 strikeouts to earn all-conference honorable mention honors. Gambrell is 11-4 with a 3.47 ERA in three seasons with the Beavers.
Former Sheldon star Kellen Strahm was picked by Texas in the fifth round following his redshirt junior season at San Jose State. The 6-1, 215-pound outfielder was the 145th overall selection with a projected slot value of $375,200.
“I hope to find out soon where I will be going,” said Strahm, who has agreed to terms with Texas. “Hopefully I will work my way up fast. This has been a dream of mine since I was little.”
Strahm led the Mountain West Conference with a .382 batting average as a senior to earn first-team all-conference honors. After sitting out a redshirt season at Lane Community College, Strahm hit .316 with 124 runs and 57 RBIs in three seasons with the Spartans
The draft concludes with the final 30 rounds Wednesday.