Ute shortstop drafted by Boston Red Sox

By and

Ryan Khoury’s Utah days are over, but he has been adopted by a Nation.

The 2006 MWC Player of the Year was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 12th round of the Major League Baseball Draft Tuesday afternoon. The 5-foot-11 shortstop, who led the Mountain West Conference with a .438 average this season, was the 373rd player taken overall.

“That is a great opportunity for Ryan and a great draft position,” U head coach Bill Kinneberg said. “I couldn’t be happier for him. He has earned this, and he has done it by playing very well this last season. I am very excited and happy for him.”

In addition to his conference-leading batting average-good enough for No. 5 in the country-Khoury also led the MWC in on-base percentage (.549), registering 39 walks and a conference-best 98 hits. En route to his all-MWC honors, Khoury became the U’s all-time hits leader, connecting on No. 281 in a May 16 meeting with Southern Utah.

Kinneberg repeatedly said during the season that Khoury’s 2006 performance was among the best he had ever seen. The rest of the MWC coaches obviously agreed when they named him the league’s top player at the conclusion of the regular season.

Khoury led the Utes with 13 homers and was second with 56 RBI-all the more impressive because he did so out of the leadoff spot, where he also swiped 16 bases.

Two other players were drafted that may have an effect on the makeup of the 2007 Utes. Alta pitcher Josh Freeman and SLCC hurler Travis Barnett both signed national letters of intent with the Utes, but both were also drafted Wednesday. The Philadelphia Phillies selected Freeman in the 11th round, No. 337 overall, while Barnett was snagged by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in round 14, 409th overall.

Both players could still play for the U next season, but that remains to be seen.

“We’ll know what those two are going to do very soon,” Kinneberg said. “It is an exciting time for both of those players. I hope we can keep them. Those are the kind of guys we need to help build this program. It is great for us that we’re signing the types of players who are getting drafted-but we’re hoping they stay around.”

The annual draft features 50 rounds, running two days with approximately 1,500 players getting drafted. This year’s draft began Tuesday morning and concluded Wednesday evening. The Kansas City Royals had the first overall selection, picking up Tennessee Volunteers hurler Luke Hochevar.

Of course, Utah isn’t the only MWC school that can now boast 2006 MLB draftees. Conference champ TCU had back-to-back selections in the second round, with Chad Huffman going at No. 53 to San Diego and Brad Furnish going one spot later to St. Louis. The Frogs had three more players taken on Wednesday.

Also selected were three players from New Mexico-Chris Carlson (round 29, Detroit), Nate Melek (round 43, Toronto) and junior Danny Ray Herrera (round 45, Texas)-and three San Diego State Aztecs, Justin Masterson (round 2, Boston), Quintin Berry (round 5, Philadelphia) and Lance Zawadzki (round 15, St. Louis).