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Baseball - Wed, Jun. 10, 2015

ST. LOUIS – Missouri Baptist had more than a nice showing in the 2015 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft on Wednesday. Marcus Crescentini, Jeff Smith and Orlando Olivera all found a new home in professional baseball as the third and final day wrapped-up.

Crescentini, the 6'4" right-handed pitcher from Wesley Chapel, Fla., was taken in the 26th Round (792 overall) by the Los Angeles Dodgers, and was a force for Missouri Baptist as the closer for the Spartans. The hard-throwing relief pitcher finished fifth in the NAIA in saves with 12 and recorded 58 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched.

Spartan third baseman Jeff Smith joined Crescentini in the professional ranks just four rounds later. The Arizona Diamondbacks took the Hamilton, Ohio native in the 30th Round (886 overall) and got a clutch infielder in the process. Smith hit .303 with 11 home runs last season and batted .444 with bases loaded.

The St. Louis Cardinals, who had representatives at several Missouri Baptist games in 2015, selected Orlando Olivera in the 38th Round (1151 overall). The Spartan left fielder finished 2015 with a .395 average, .736 slugging percentage and was second in the NAIA in home runs with 20. Olivera was a career .421 hitter at MBU and was the lone two-time, First-Team NAIA All-American this season.

Overall, 40 players from the NAIA were taken. Missouri Baptist was one of just four teams to have three players taken (Lewis-Clark State [Idaho], Westmont [Calif.] and Oklahoma Baptist), which led all schools in 2015.

Missouri Baptist's three players that were drafted tied a school record set in 1991 when Ricky Blest, Jeffery Miller and Terry Farrar were taken. In 2003, Jason McStoots, Ezequiel Perez and Cristobal Melendez were selected, which marked the second time three Spartans had their names called.

Marcus Crescentini's selection in the 26th round was the highest MBU draft pick since 1991 when Farrar was taken in the eighth round by the Baltimore Orioles. This was also the first time in MBU history that the Los Angeles Dodgers have selected a player from MBU.

With Jeff Smith's selection, the Arizona Diamondbacks are now tied with the Detroit Tigers with four Missouri Baptist selections in history. The St. Louis Cardinals drafted their third Spartan today with Olivera.

 

About MBU Athletics: The Missouri Baptist University Department of Athletics supports 27 varsity athletics programs and seven junior varsity sports. The University is a proud member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and is an NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Award winner. Spartan Athletics also encompasses several non-NAIA teams to its credit.

 

About the NAIA: The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is the governing body for athletics programs at colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. The long-held mission is to advance character-driven intercollegiate athletics while promoting the education and development of well-rounded students and productive citizens through sport participation. The association offers equitable access and opportunities to more than 60,000 student-athletes for the chance to compete in its 23 national championship events held annually throughout the country.

Today, the NAIA strengthens its commitment to student-athletes and strives to enrich their college experience by supporting academic achievement and character development. NAIA Champions of Character is the association's innovative flagship program designed to instill character values in student-athletes, coaches and youth in the communities it serves. To learn more visit www.NAIA.org