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FOUR WILDCATS GO IN THE FIRST SEVEN ROUNDS

FOUR WILDCATS GO IN THE FIRST SEVEN ROUNDS

By Mark Janssen    

Individually, but collectively, they glued their eyes to a computer screen starting at 11 Tuesday morning.

Each Wildcat - Evan Marshall, Jason King, Nick Martini and James Allen - was visually attached to the scroll of players being listed on the "Draft Tracker" portion of mlb.com.
"Sitting there watching all the names come and go was very nerve racking," admitted Marshall, who was at his girlfriend's home in Wichita.  "Once you see your name, it's very exciting.  You let out a yell, and then a sigh of relief."

Allen was at his home in St. Charles, Mo., where he admitted, "It can get grueling, but my expectations weren't real high.  But when I saw my name, it was exciting.  I was happy, but my mom was happier."
    
On the second day of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft, Marshall was the third selection of the fourth round by the Arizona Diamondbacks and the 124th overall player taken.  King followed in the fourth round as the 137th player taken by the Detroit Tigers.

Nick Martini went next in the seventh round to the St. Louis Cardinals as the 230th player selected, while James Allen went five selections later to the Cincinnati Reds.

Each Wildcat told "Sports Extra" that they planned to sign in the next two weeks and were excited to learn of their first team in professional baseball.

Marshall and King became the first two Wildcats drafted in the top-four rounds of the regular draft in the same year since 1969.  They are also the third and fourth K-State players taken in the top five rounds over the past three years, following A.J. Morris (fourth round, Washington) in 2009 and Carter Jurica (third round, San Francisco) last season.

It also marks the first time in K-State history that four players were ever selected in the first seven rounds of the MLB draft.

A product of Sunnyvale, Calif., Marshall was one of the Wildcats' top relievers in 2011 as he held a 5-5 record and a 1.62 ERA with 55 strikeouts in 30 appearances.  He finished his junior campaign second in school history in appearances, while his ERA ranked third.  In his three-year career, Marshall made 85 appearances to rank second in Kansas State history.

King, a 2011 Second Team All-Big 12 selection, rebounded from a season-ending injury prior to the 2010 campaign to lead the Wildcats with a .326 batting average this year.  The third baseman had 35 extra-base hits in 2011, including 10 home runs, and drove in a team-high 59 RBI.

Allen and Martini first saw their names pop up, and then received calls from the teams drafting them, while Marshall said the name and call came at the same time.

And then there were calls like Martini received from teams saying that they might be ready to draft him.

"The Phillies and the Padres called just to make sure I was serious about playing baseball, but then when their turn came, they drafted someone else," said Martini, who was a .316 hitter this past season, which included an NCAA record 93-game string of getting on base dating back to the 2009 season.  "That's the way it goes, but it can play with your mind a little bit."

What Martini now faces is changing his mind a little bit.  Growing up in Crystal Lake, Ill., he said, "I wasn't that much of a Cardinals fan.  In fact, I was a huge fan of the (Chicago) Cubs.  That will have to change."

Marshall said he had talked to Diamondback officials several times during the last two to four weeks about "... just my general health, my mentality, my personality and just characteristics I have on and off the field.  I guess they liked what they heard."

Allen, K-State's all-time and single-season record holder in saves, said he had received multiple calls from the Reds in recent weeks.

"I knew they had an interest, but you never know how interested they really are," said the closer.

The draft continued into the evening hours on Tuesday, and will resume Wednesday morning for Rounds 31-50.


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