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Baseball: UL pitcher Marks opts to go pro, sign with Oakland

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, June 16, 2017

Even while still coming to grips with the fact he is losing one of the top arms from his pitching staff — All-American reliever Wyatt Marks, the third of three juniors who will UL leave early to play professional baseball — a part of Tony Robichaux could not help but be happy.

The latest departure, Robichaux suggested, comes with the territory that is college ball.

“We’re proud of that,” the Ragin’ Cajuns coach said of Marks coming to terms with the Oakland Athletics.

Marks, perhaps best known for impressive slider, indicated via social media Friday that he plans to pursue a pro career after the Athletics selected him Wednesday in the 13th round of the MLB 

Posted Marks on Twitter and Instagram: “I had two dreams as a kid, one to play baseball for the Ragin Cajuns, and the other to play professional baseball. Cajun nation has exceeded every expectation I had and will easily be considered the best 3 years of my life. I cannot thank all of you enough for the support, truly the greatest fans in the country! 31 signing off.”

Marks — a St. Thomas More High product — wore No. 31 for the Cajuns, who had four players and one signee picked on the third and final day of the 40-round draft.

The New York Yankees selected junior outfielder Steven Sensley in the draft’s 12th round, and the slugger quickly agreed to terms.

St. Louis picked junior pitcher Evan Guillory in the 23rd round, and he agreed to the terms with the Cardinals on Wednesday.

Guillory later posted an Instagram message that said, in part, “Thank you to Cajun nation for the past 3 years, Ive made lifelong memories and loved every minute! #forevercajun.”

“We tell these guys in the recruiting process, ‘We want you to play through us, and play to us,’” Robichaux said, “so you have to be happy for (them).

“I’m very proud of ’em, and very pleased that they’re getting these opportunities,” he added, “because it speaks well for our development.”

After not getting taken in the draft’s first 10 rounds Monday and Tuesday, meanwhile, junior pitcher Gunner Leger let MLB teams know Wednesday morning that he planned to remain in school for his senior season.

The Miami Marlins picked him in the 26th round anyway.

But Leger — UL’s Friday night starter, and the Sun Belt Conference’s 2017 Pitcher of the Year — later reiterated via Twitter that he’s staying with Cajuns, whose season ended with a Sun Belt Tournament loss to Georgia Southern.

Teurlings Catholic High shortstop and UL signee Hayden Cantrelle also was tapped by the Yankees, in the 40th round.

The All-Acadiana MVP is expected to honor his commitment to the Cajuns, although on Thursday he did not rule out the possibility of signing with the Yankees if he was offered enough money to do so, and on Friday Robichaux still waiting for official word on Cantrelle’s decision.

This year’s picks have until July 7 to sign, but can retain whatever college eligibility they have left if they do not.

Marks, a first team All-Sun Belt pick, earlier this month was named a first team All-American by Baseball America and a second team All-American by D1Baseball.

Earlier this week, he also was named a second team All-American by the National College Baseball Writers Association and received All-America honorable mention from Perfect Game.

Marks, a former starter used as a reliever in 2017, recorded seven saves with a 2-1 record in 30 appearances while posting a 2.28 ERA over 59.1 innings this season.

He finished the year with 100 strikeouts, and currently leads the nation in both strikeouts per innings (15.17) and hits allowed per nine innings (4.40).

LAGNIAPPE: Marks joins Stefan Trosclair (2015), Jace Conrad (2014), Caleb Adams (2014) and Phil Devey (1999) on the list of Ragin’ Cajuns players to earn at least honorable mention on at least four different All-American teams in one season. … Leger (10-2, 1.97 ERA) also was named a third-team All-American by both the NCBWA and Perfect Game earlier this week. … St. Thomas More High product O’Neal Lochridge, who played in 12 games and started 10 at third base for LSU in 2016, is expected to join the Cajuns in the fall semester. But because of NCAA transfer rules it’s uncertain for now if Lochridge, who didn’t play for the Tigers this season because of a back injury, will be eligible at UL right away. … Ex-Cajuns catcher Nick Thurman had both an inside-the-park home run and a game-winning walk-off single Thursday night for the Clinton Lumberkings, Class A Midwest League affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.





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