TUESDAY, JUNE 08, 2004
Orlando Diaz & Chris Kelly Selected In Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft
June 8, 2004
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville University senior third baseman Orlando Diaz (Downer's Grove, Ill.) was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 27th round with the 792nd overall pick of the 2004 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, while junior relief pitcher/outfielder Chris Kelly was selected by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with the 1,360th pick in the 46th round on Tuesday. Diaz had a breakout senior season in which he earned First-Team Atlantic Sun All-Conference honors after leading JU with nine home runs and 43 RBI, while Kelly went 0-1 with three saves and a 1.74 ERA in his first season on the mound as a closer. Last year, the Texas Rangers selected Bobby Bowman in the 19th round, while the Anaheim Angels selected Chad Hauseman in the 24th round.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Diaz, a preseason all-conference honoree, finished the 2004 season tops among A-Sun third basemen in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage (.508), stolen bases (11-13) and fielding percentage (.965), while committing just five errors in 139 chances at the hot corner. He ended the regular season tied for fifth in the conference in home runs, ninth in RBI and tied for 11th in stolen bases. Diaz hit .304 with 19 extra-base hits, while playing in all 56 games of his senior season.
"Defensively, Orlando has all the tools to play at the Major League level," says JU head coach Terry Alexander, who has had 36 players drafted during his 14 years as head coach. "The key is how he progresses offensively through the minor leagues. I'm happy that his strong senior season paid off for him personally, as well as for our team."
Diaz played two seasons at JU after transferring from Iowa Western Community College, where he led IWCC to the Junior College World Series as a freshman in 2001. Diaz was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 32nd round of the 2000 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
Kelly hit just .229 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 33 games as an outfielder, but developed into the Dolphins' top closer in just his first season of pitching on a regular basis. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound righthander made nine appearances, allowing two earned runs on six hits with 11 strikeouts in 10.1 innings of work. Kelly, who limited opponents to a team-low .162 batting average, has already graduated with honors from JU, despite having a year of eligibility remaining. He is a four-time Atlantic Sun Academic All-Conference honoree.