Draft caps triumphant day for Vanderbilt
Fulmer, Buehler selected after top pick Swanson; Illinois' Jay goes sixth following loss
CHAMPAIGN, ILL. -- Dansby Swanson and Carson Fulmer of Vanderbilt and Tyler Jay of the University of Illinois woke up on Monday with a good feeling that they would be selected in the first round of the MLB Draft that evening. But first, they had a game to play. That game was the NCAA Super Regional.
Vanderbilt won the first game of the best-of-three series on Saturday, so Monday's contest presented a win-or-go-home scenario for Illinois. Jay, Illinois' closer, was called upon to start.
The most anticipated matchup was Jay vs. Swanson. The Vanderbilt shortstop went 2-for-3 against the southpaw, hitting a home run and a double after striking out in the first inning of a 4-2 win for the Commodores, who won the College World Series last season.
While Swanson celebrated the victory with Fulmer and the rest of his team, Jay retreated to the clubhouse with his teammates in a melancholy fashion.
And then the phone calls came in.
Roughly 12 minutes after celebrating a punched ticket to the College World Series in Omaha, Swanson learned that he was taken first overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks while watching the event live via the At Bat app on his mom's phone.
"I can't complain, that's for sure," Swanson said of his day of achievements. "You can't really script a moment any better."
Swanson is the first Commodores player to be selected No.1 overall since David Price in 2007. This achievement makes Vanderbilt the second college in history to produce multiple No. 1 Draft picks. Arizona State is the only other college to accomplish the feat.
There was plenty of hype surrounding Vanderbilt's prized shortstop prior to the Draft, but Swanson claims that it didn't put any extra pressure on him to produce.
"It's two separate things," Swanson said of competing on the day of the Draft. "I was at peace with both. I was just going to control my effort and my focus on today's game and let everything pan out."
About a half-hour after Swanson was selected, Jay was taken with the No. 6 pick by the Minnesota Twins. The moment immediately turned a tough situation into a childhood dream.
"Ultimate low to ultimate high in about a half-hour," Jay said of his emotions after being drafted. "It's just incredible. I can't even put it in words."
Jay made a career out of relief pitching at Illinois. Considered the top left-hander in the Draft, he recorded 14 saves this season for the Illini, who won 27 straight games at one point.
However, while Jay said he'd be willing to accept any role on the Twins, it seems the southpaw would enjoy a starting role the most.
"I don't really have a preference," Jay said. "Going out there and having the control of the game [as a starter] was something that I did miss a lot."
Fulmer, who, along with Swanson, is one of four finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, kept the trend going when he was selected eighth overall by the Chicago White Sox.
"This is just definitely a time where it hasn't settled in yet," Fulmer said. "It's surreal."
Fulmer threw 6 1/3 innings of scoreless ball in the first game of the series.
Junior right-hander Walker Buehler capped a busy night for Vanderbilt by being drafted 24th by the Los Angeles Dodgers, marking the fourth time that a school had three top-25 selections.