NATCHITOCHES - Northwestern State sophomore right-handed relief pitcher Chad Sheppard, who set a school career record with 20 saves in two seasons with the Demons, has agreed to terms with the New York Mets organization, the Associated Press reported Monday.
Sheppard, NSU's bullpen ace during the last two seasons, was chosen by the Mets as the 512th overall pick in the 17th round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft earlier this month, and was the first of a school-record five Demons picked in the 2010 draft.
He is the first to sign a pro contract, although infielder Chase Lyles, a 32nd-round selection of the Pittsburgh Pirates, reportedly was traveling to Pennsylvania Monday to sign with that franchise and report to one of the Pirates' minor league affiliates.
Terms of Sheppard's deal were not available Monday. There was no immediate indication where the Mets would assign Sheppard. Draft picks are typically sent to Class A teams. New York has Class A minor league affiliates in Savannah, Ga., St. Lucie, Fla., and Brooklyn, N.Y., with a Class AA affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y. The Mets' Triple-A minor league affiliate is in Buffalo.
Sheppard, 21, is a native of Enterprise and product of Franklin Academy. He was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America pitcher in 2009 and made the 2010 AllPing! Preseason All-America third team.
Sheppard became the Southland Conference's recipient of the inaugural Relief Pitcher of the Year award when the finished the 2010 season with 10 saves - tying his single-season school record that he set in 2009.
In his brief two-year career at NSU, he racked up a school-record 20 saves to go along with a career 6-1 record and 3.03 ERA in 49 appearances. He struck out 92 batters in 74.2 innings pitched while walking just 35.
This past season, Sheppard compiled a 2-0 record with a 3.60 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched in earning All-Southland Conference third team honors.