The curious case of Nevada’s Austin Byler
Nevada first baseman Austin Byler was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 316th pick (11th round) in this year’s MLB draft. This selection came after he was selected by the Washington Nationals in last year’s draft (pick No. 274), but he instead chose to come back for his senior season at Nevada. To most people this isn’t a big deal, but there are many who feel that Byler might be one of the steals of the 2015 MLB Draft.
So, what is it that is so surprising about Austin Byler? Quite a bit actually, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that ESPN had him ranked as the No. 94 prospect heading into the draft this year. Again, you ask, what is the big deal? What makes Austin Byler so special? One glaring reason (besides his prospect rank) is that he came back for his senior year and helped lead Nevada to their first-ever Mountain West Conference regular season title. He also switched from third base to first base and was a key cog in the Wolf Pack offense. He is a career .320 hitter, and during his 2015 campaign for Nevada he had a slashline of .328/.507/.652, with 14 home runs, 52 runs batted in, 69 runs scored, 54 walks and 9 stolen bases. His stat line continuously rose from year-to-year, but the biggest change was his walk total this season.
Austin Byler is not the only player to have fallen in the draft while being a highly ranked prospect, but the Arizona Diamondbacks felt that he would be a great addition, and deal. The best part about the D’Backs selecting Byler? He is from Peoria, AZ, and gets the opportunity to play for his hometown team. It’s safe to say that he is excited about the opportunity as well.
“I’m so thrilled right now, it’s awesome,” Byler said via phone from Arizona on Wednesday. “I couldn’t have picked a better organization to be a part of. It’s really a dream to play for them, the hometown team. We used to have season tickets when I was younger, so we went to hundreds of games,” via RGJ.com.
Needless to say, Austin Byler to the Arizona Diamondbacks is a deal that both parties are very excited about.
If you aren’t familiar with Austin Byler, you need to look up his stats while he was at Nevada. Many people in Reno, NV, the location of the University of Nevada, are excited that they might have the chance to watch Byler play for the Triple-A Reno Aces. How long do you think it will take Austin Byler to make it onto the D’Backs roster? Was this a good selection by Arizona in the 11th round? Let us know in the comments section below.
Dustin Brown covers the Nevada Wolf Pack and MLB for MFST, and you can follow him on Twitter @SprtsWritingMan.