COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Tech lefty Ryan Dennick was
selected Wednesday in the Major League Baseball first-year player
draft by the Kansas City Royals, going to the American League club
in the 22nd round. A 6-foot senior from North Olmstead, Ohio,
Dennick became one of Tech's most effective starters after opening
the year as the team's closer out of the bullpen.
Dennick returned to Cookeville Thursday morning from his home near Cleveland, and planned to meet with coach Matt Bragga and speak to the Golden Eagle Baseball Camp participants. His visit back to Tech is a brief one, as he flies out Friday morning to Phoenix for a week with the Surprise (Ariz.) Royals Rookie League team. After that, he's slated to join the Class A Burlington (N.C.) Royals in the Appalachian League.
"I am so proud of Ryan and so excited for him," said Bragga. "He really deserves this opportunity. He is an outstanding young man and he works very hard. He has done everything we've asked of him, and he was extremely effective for us, first as a reliever and then as a starter."
Dennick's selection marks the second year in a row that the Golden Eagles have had a player picked in the MLB draft, following Jake New's pick last year in the 36th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Dennick is the seventh Golden Eagle player to be drafted since 1983, and the sixth pitcher. The only previous lefthander was Erik Sabel in 1996 by the Diamondbacks.
"They (Royals scout Sean Gibbs) called me Wednesday while the 19th round was going on, and told me they were going to pick me in the 22nd round," Dennick explained. "My first thought was 'unbelievable.' This is a dream come true."
He said he began thinking about the possibility after he became a starter, and he had some success and also drew some interest from numerous MLB scouts following the Golden Eagles.
"I talked with seven or eight scouts leading up to the draft," Dennick said. "The Yankees called me right before the Royals. It didn't matter to me where I was picked or who picked me, I'm just glad to be going."
He also wanted to give credit to his Golden Eagle teammates.
"Without them, this wouldn't have been possible, " he said. "I want to thank all of them. If we didn't get to the OVC Tournament, none of this would have happened for me. Their success is my success."
Dennick tied for the team-high with 21 appearances in 2009, the first 16 of those coming in relief. Forced into a starting role late in the year, he relished the new assignment and had five strong starts in a row. He finished the year with a 4-2 record and a 3.75 ERA, and also earned two saves while working 72 innings. He walked 33 and struck out 58.
As a starter, his numbers were pretty eye-popping, especially considering who the opponents were -- two NCAA Regional teams, including one which is in the College World Series -- plus the second-place OVC team twice and the defending OVC champions. In his five starts, Dennick posted a 3-0 record and a 1.99 ERA, holding those tough opponents to a combined .189 batting average.
Dennick's first start as a Golden Eagle came at Murray State (5/3) in a game that was called after five innings as a 1-1 tie. He worked 4.2 innings and held the Racers to two hits and one run. His next start came five days later when pitched five shutout innings in a 5-1 win over Jacksonville State (5/8).
Perhaps his most impressive outing came in Hattiesburg, Miss., when he held Southern Mississippi -- a team playing next week in the College World Series -- to one hit and one run over six innings as the TTU Golden Eagles posted a 7-1 victory.
He went the distance in his only appearance in the OVC Tournament, stifling No. 2 seed Murray State through nine innings by allowing just five hits and two runs in a 7-2 Golden Eagle victory.
Dennick baffled the Regional's No. 1 seed, Clemson, holding the Tigers to five hits and three runs, leaving the game after the seventh with a 4-3 lead.
He had a season-high six strikeouts in his first outing of the year, working three innings in relief of a 12-6 victory over St. Peters (2/21). He had five strikeouts in three other relief appearances, posting saves over Belmont and Georgia State in two of those contests.
Dennick's first week will be at a mini-camp in Surprise Stadium with the Royals' rookie club in the Arizona League, the Surprise Royals.
After that, Dennick will head to the Burlington (N.C.) Royals, a Class A team managed by Nelson Liriano. The pitching coach at Burlington is Bobby St. Pierre. The roster currently lists just five pitchers and only one left handed pitcher.
Burlington is scheduled to open the 2009 season on Sunday, June 21 against Catawba. Some of the teams on the schedule include Elizabthton, Kingsport, Johnson City and Bristol, meaning Dennick could be back in Tennessee several times in his first season.
If he moves up, the next level would place him with the Class AA Northwest Arkansas Bees in Springdale, Ark., while the Royals' AAA club is the Omaha Royals, who play in Rosenblatt Stadium, home of the College World Series.
"Ryan has worked so hard, and he's been so determined," Bragga said. "Like a lot of our guys, it's been a goal of his to get this opportunity and I'm thrilled that he's gotten it."
Here is a list of all of the players selected in the 22nd round:
652. Washington, Daniel Rosenbaum, LHP, Xavier.
653. Seattle, Andrew Hayes, RHP, Vanderbilt.
654. San Diego, Cody Decker, 1B, UCLA.
655. Pittsburgh, Carmine Giardina, LHP, Tampa.
656. Baltimore, Cameron Coffey, LHP, Houston Christian HS.
657. San Francisco, Andrew Biery, 3B, Kansas St.
658. Atlanta, James Weber, RHP, St. Petersburg JC.
659. Cincinnati, David Stewart, 1B, Grayson County College.
660. Detroit, Matthew Mansilla, OF, College of Charleston.
661. Colorado, David Born, LHP, Long Beach St.
662. Kansas City, Ryan Dennick, LHP, Tennessee Tech.
663. Oakland, Ryan Quigley, LHP, Northeastern.
664. Texas, Samuel Brown, RHP, North Carolina St.
665. Cleveland, Kenneth Kelly, RHP, Yavapai.
666. Arizona, Evan Button, SS, Mississippi St.
667. L.A. Dodgers, Stetson Banks, OF, Brigham Young.
668. Florida, Terrence Dayleg, SS, Western Kentucky.
669. St. Louis, Joseph Bergman, 2B, College of Charleston.
670. Toronto, Matt Fields, RHP, Gonzaga.
671. Houston, Mark Jones, RHP, Manheim Township HS, Lancaster, Pa.
672. Minnesota, Stewart Munroe, C, Florida.
673. Chicago White Sox, Zach Kayne, SS, Davidson.
674. N.Y. Mets, Zachary Von Tersch, RHP, Georgia Tech.
675. N.Y. Yankees, Richard Soignier, SS, Louisiana-Monroe.
676. Milwaukee, Michael Fiers, RHP, Nova Southeastern.
677. Philadelphia, Kyle Lafrenz, C, Indiana St.
678. Boston, Jordan Flasher, RHP, George Mason.
679. Tampa Bay, Jake Sullivan, LHP, Arkansas-Little Rock.
680. Chicago Cubs, Derrick Fitzgerald, 2B, Dyersburg State CC.
681. L.A. Angels, Stephen Locke, LHP, Florida.