Major League Baseball teams invested in a trio of FAU arms on Saturday along with one of the defensive players who made their jobs on the mound significantly easier, giving the Owls a total of five players drafted during MLB’s 2016 draft.
Center fielder Billy Endris was the final FAU player to get the call, joining pitchers David McKay, Colyn O’Connell and Robbie Coursel.
Endris, who hit .288 batting mostly from the second spot in the Owls’ order, was selected by Arizona in the 35th round. A fantastic defender who covered an exceptional amount of ground in center for the Owls, this is the second time in as many years Endris has been drafted. He turned down the Kansas City Royals, who chose him in 2015’s 39th round, to return to FAU for a senior season.
McKay became the second FAU player selected when the defending world champion Kansas City Royals selected the righty in Saturday’s 14th round. About an hour later, reliever Colyn O’Connell became the third when Detroit came calling in the 26th round. Four picks later Pittsburgh grabbed fellow reliever Robbie Coursel.
Saturday’s quartet joins shortstop C.J. Chatham, a Boston second-round pick, as drafted Owls.
McKay posted a 3-6 record with a 3.74 ERA in 2016 – his first year in FAU’s starting rotation.
“My dreams finally came true,” McKay said. “I’m excited to see what this has in store for me. Kansas City was interested in me and that’s who I thought would draft me. They do a good job of developing pitchers, so I’m ready to get started.”
Only a redshirt sophomore, McKay has a decision to make. He could elect to sign with the Royals or return to FAU, where he has two more years of eligibility remaining, in hopes of improving his positioning for one of the next two drafts.
O’Connell faces a similar decision. The junior righty who came to FAU from Miami-Dade Community College has one year of eligibility remaining.
FAU utilized O’Connell in relief this season. About midway through the year he finally got the feel of a curve ball to go with a heater that can reach 95 mph, making O’Connell a devastating weapon out of the pen.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound O’Connell went 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA, striking out 19 in 27 innings of work.
Unlike McKay and O’Connell, Coursel doesn’t have much of a decision to make. As a senior, if he wants to play professional baseball he will sign with the Pirates.
The right-hander was frequently called upon to give FAU multiple innings out of the bullpen. He produced 5-3 record and a 2.73 ERA while striking out 30 in 33 innings of relief.
McKay enjoyed a strong start to the season, allowing one run on three hits to South Dakota St., earning the win in FAU’s season opener. The following week McKay struck out 14 in a dominating seven-inning performance against LIU-Brooklyn.
He struggled in the two starts that followed, prompting FAU coach John McCormack to remove McKay from the weekend rotation. He pitched well during midweek games, including a six-inning start against then-No. 1 Miami that led to an FAU victory, and by the end of the season McKay was back in the weekend rotation.
McKay allowed three runs, two earned, in five innings while taking the loss to Long Beach St. in FAU’s opening game of the NCAA Tournament.
Only two of McKay’s 15 appearances in 2015 came as a starter. That year he went 4-2 with a 3.19 ERA.
McKay is the third FAU player chosen by Kansas City in the past two years. In 2015 the Royals selected Roman Collins in the fifth round along with Endris.