NATCHITOCHES -- Two more Northwestern State standouts, Chase Lyles and Oscar Garcia, have signed professional contracts and are lining up to begin minor league seasons after being picked in the Major League Baseball amateur draft last week.
Garcia, a junior outfielder from El Paso, Texas, is joining the Eugene (Ore.) Emeralds. He was chosen as the 934th overall pick and ninth pick in the 31st round by the San Diego Padres, who signed him Sunday night.
The Ems open their Northwest League season at home Friday against Vancouver.
Lyles, a native of Plain Dealing, is with the State College (Pa.) Spikes. He just wrapped up a stellar four-year career at NSU and was taken as the 957th overall selection and second in the 31st round by the Pittsburgh Pirates, who signed him Tuesday morning.
The Spikes are on the road Friday for their season opener against nearby Williamsport, but host the Crosscutters a night later in a New York-Penn League series.
Chad Sheppard, the Demons' ace reliever, has been assigned to the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Cyclones by the New York Mets, who signed him Monday after selecting him in the 17th round of the draft.
The Cyclones also play in the New York-Penn League and open Friday against the Staten Island Yankees, who play at Brooklyn Saturday night. Sheppard's Cyclones host Lyles' Spikes July 8-10.
All three former Demons are in short-season Class A leagues.
Garcia earned first team All-Southland Conference honors this season after he led the Demons with 87 hits - second most in a single-season in school history and one off of the record. He finished second on the team with a .375 batting average and topped the team with a .473 on-base percentage. He ranked as one of the toughest players in the nation to strikeout, having only K'd 12 times in 232 at-bats.
Lyles earned second team All-SLC honors this season and set school records for most stolen bases in a season (34) and in a game (4) after he swiped 34 of 43 for the year. He hit .350 and was second on the team with seven home runs while leading the squad with 56 RBI. He finished his career ranked in the top five in all major NSU offensive categories and second for most career home runs (30), just one off the record, hits (248, 11 from the record), RBI (151, record is 169), and stolen bases (78, record is 100).
The trio joins Ryan Zimmerman (30th round, Arizona Diamondbacks) and Luke Irvine (43rd round, Chicago White Sox) among a fivesome of Demons chosen in last week's draft. Also selected was NSU signee Chris Winder of Odessa College who was drafted in the 27th round by the Tampa Bay Rays. He has signed with the club.
The five Demon players are the most players drafted in a season in school history. The previous high was in 1998 when four players, all pitchers - Brandon Emanuel, Brian Lawrence, Allen Davis, and Chris Brown - were drafted.