OAKLAND -- The A's risked their ninth overall Draft selection on a potential star quarterback.• Draft Tracker: Follow every A's Draft pickKyler Murray, a two-sport athlete at the University of Oklahoma, went to them in the first round on Monday. The center fielder will play football in the fall before
OAKLAND -- The A's risked their ninth overall Draft selection on a potential star quarterback.
• Draft Tracker: Follow every A's Draft pick
Kyler Murray, a two-sport athlete at the University of Oklahoma, went to them in the first round on Monday. The center fielder will play football in the fall before beginning his professional baseball career.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
"I think, as a staff, we just felt like Kyler was a unique talent, and it's something that you come across rarely in what we do," A's scouting director Eric Kubota said. "The risk of the football was, in our opinion, outweighed by the upside on the baseball field.
"We were totally on board with his desire to play quarterback at Oklahoma. Frankly, we're kind of excited to be an Oklahoma fan for 12 games."
Oakland reeled in another college outfielder with its No. 50 pick, going with Dallas Baptist's Jameson Hannah -- equipped with speed and power potential -- in the second round. At No. 70, the A's took Missouri State shortstop Jeremy Eierman to cap their day.
Murray, 20, also drew first-round interest out of high school but opted out of the process because of his desire to play baseball and football at Texas A&M. He transferred to Oklahoma following his freshman season and subsequently had to sit out 2016 before backing up Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield -- the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft -- last fall and completing 18 of 21 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns.
On the diamond, he hit .296 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs in 51 games for the Sooners following a productive stay in the Cape Cod Summer League. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Murray won't be in a baseball uniform again until Spring Training.
"Obviously, we'd love for him to have as many at-bats as possible, especially since he hasn't played as much since high school," Kubota said. "But we feel he's remarkably advanced considering the situation.
"He was a talent we identified pretty early in the process this spring. It was just getting over the fact that it was unconventional. This isn't something you run across all the time, so I think we all factored the football into our evaluations while we were going through the process."
The son of former Texas A&M quarterback and Brewers farmhand Kevin Murray and the nephew of two-time first-rounder and five-year Major Leaguer Calvin Murray, Kyler embraces the challenge of balancing two sports at such a high level of competition and clings to his mental strength, noting, "Athletic ability only gets you so far, so for me it has to be the work ethic and the mindset."
"A little difficult on the body, but I've been doing both my whole life, since I was 4 years old," he said. "I do a pretty good job of staying cool, calm and collected when I'm going from football practice to baseball games and vice versa. For me, I'm just grateful to play both at this level and obviously excited to be drafted, very thankful. Tonight being drafted is a very great moment for me."
The uncertainty about the direction of Kyler's future led him to be low on many pre-Draft boards, with MLB Pipeline ranking him No. 36. But the A's were immediately drawn to his athleticism.
"We just don't see athletes like this on the baseball field very often." Kubota said. "He's a very instinctive baseball player, which is especially impressive considering how little baseball he's played since high school. He's just a tremendous athlete, which can translate to the baseball field in a lot of ways. He has a chance to really be dominant on both the offensive end and from a defensive standpoint."
Said Murray: "I'm a very confident guy no matter what it is I'm doing. First off, I feel like with the reps and the time put in I feel like I can do anything in the field. That's easier said than done, but I'm a very confident guy and with the time and the reps I feel like I can do anything."
The Draft continues today with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 9:30 a.m. PT, with exclusive coverage beginning at 10 a.m. PT.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.