Kentucky junior pitcher Zack Brown, junior third baseman JaVon Shelby and senior pitcher Kyle Cody were selected Friday in the Major League Draft.
Brown and Shelby were taken in the fifth round with back-to-back picks by the Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland A’s, respectively. Cody was a sixth-round choice by the Texas Rangers. Kentucky is one of nine schools with at least three selections in the first six rounds of the draft.
Brown pitched in a challenging role as UK’s starter in the opening game in each weekend series of the season. He notched two wins, striking out 62 batters in 84.1 innings. His top performances on the season included seven strong innings in a 3-2 win over Alabama and no earned runs in seven innings in a victory over Buffalo. He had a tough-luck loss against Arkansas, throwing nine shutout innings against the Razorbacks before giving up a run in the 10th inning of a 1-0 loss. Brown went 6-6 with a 3.48 ERA as a sophomore in 2015, including a pair of complete-game shutouts.
It is the second time that Brown has been drafted. He was a 38th-round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 2013 out of Seymour (Ind.) High School.
Shelby belted 12 home runs in the 2016 season, leading UK and ranking third in the SEC in that category. He batted .212 with 11 doubles, two triples, 35 runs batted in and 42 runs scored. It was his first season as a third baseman after playing second base his first two years at Kentucky. Shelby was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection in 2015 when he hit .312 with nine homers and 44 RBI. He also was a Freshman All-SEC honoree in 2014 with a .250 batting average, four homers and 23 RBI.
Shelby certainly has the heritage to succeed as the son of John Shelby, Jr., who played 11 years in the major leagues. JaVon’s older brother, John Shelby III, starred at UK from 2004-06 and went on to play six years in the minor leagues. Previously, JaVon was a 37th-round draft pick of Milwaukee in 2013.
Cody had an outstanding senior season for the Wildcats with a 6-2 record and 3.35 earned-run average. He started 14 games, threw 83.1 innings, struck out 75 batters and allowed only a .239 opponent batting average. He pitched his best in his 10 starts against Southeastern Conference competition, going 4-1 with a 2.77 ERA in league action, and allowed three earned runs or fewer in his last nine SEC starts. He capped his Wildcat career with a complete-game victory in a 7-2 win over Missouri on May 21, with a career-high nine strikeouts.
Cody had a 17-9 career record as a Wildcat, tied for 12th in school history for wins. He ranks eighth in UK history in winning percentage (.654), eighth in games started (42) and 11th in strikeouts (205). From McDonnell Central High School in Chippewa Falls, Wisc., Cody was a 33rd round pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012. He was a second-round pick by the Minnesota Twins following his junior year at UK.
by Tony Neely