2 WKU baseball signees selected in MLB Draft

New astro-turf was installed over the summer at Nick Denes Field. Matt Lunsford/HERALD

Drake Kizer

Editor’s note: This story previously stated that the signing deadline for the 2019 MLB Draft was 11:59 p.m. ET on August 15. The deadline is 5 p.m. ET on July 12. The Herald regrets the error.

Two WKU baseball signees may soon be suiting up for professional careers instead, as junior college pitchers Ryan Gusto and Riley Boyd were both selected in the 2019 MLB Draft Wednesday.

According to a May 2019 NCAA memorandum, “Any drafted player with remaining collegiate eligibility who does not sign a contract with the MLB team that has drafted him prior to 5 p.m. Eastern time July 12 will be placed back into the draft pool for the 2019 MLB Draft. If the student-athlete has not violated any NCAA rules through this process, he will remain eligible to compete at an NCAA institution.”

That means the teams who selected Gusto and Boyd will retain their exclusive rights until 5 p.m. ET on July 12 unless either player — or both — decides to enroll at WKU on a full-time basis before the deadline. The first day of classes for the 2019-20 academic year at WKU is long after the deadline, Aug. 26.

Gusto, a sophomore who spent 2018 at Broward College in Florida and 2019 at Florida SouthWestern State College, was selected by Houston in the 11th round. The Astros took the 2019 Florida College System Activities Association and Suncoast Conference Pitcher of the Year with the 346th overall pick.

In 18 appearances — nine of which were starts — the right-hander finished with a 7-2 record, allowed 70 hits, walked 22 batters and yielded three home runs. Gusto completed the year with a 2.88 ERA in 75 innings, collecting 110 strikeouts, a save and a complete game. Gusto also struck out a school-record 16 batters in a 5-0 win over Polk State College in March, according to a press release.

“I’ll know the Astros official offer in a day or 2 and then I’ll know for sure. I definitely want to note right now how awesome the coaching staff at WKU has been throughout the whole process so I have a really tough decision either way,” Gusto wrote in a direct message. “The resume of the coaching staff and the facilities WKU had to offer were both outstanding and the fact that I was offered a full ride is really gonna make this a tough decision.”

Boyd, a sophomore who spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons at Jefferson College in Missouri, was selected by Kansas City in the 28th round. The Royals drafted the El Dorado Springs, Missouri, native with the 829th overall pick. “Boyd is a good athlete with arm speed,” Baseball America wrote.

In 13 appearances this year — 12 of which were starts — the right-hander posted a 6-4 record, gave up 43 hits, walked 32 batters and gave up four home runs. Boyd finished the season with a 4.24 ERA in 57.1 innings of work, racking up 75 strikeouts and 11.77 punchouts per nine innings.

“I can’t put a timeline on anything just because I simply do not know either. Just seeing if the right opportunity arises to see if I start my professional career or go to a division one school,” Boyd wrote in a direct message. “I love Western Kentucky and everything it has to offer to me but it’s a very tough decision and I will know sometime this summer what I want to do.”

If Gusto and Boyd ultimately decide to extend their collegiate careers instead of opting for professional opportunities, they would be joining a WKU program that just posted its best season since joining Conference USA, although fellow MLB draft pick Jake Sanford isn’t likely to be in the lineup for the Hilltoppers next season.

Sports Editor Drake Kizer can be reached at 270-745-2653 and [email protected]. Follow Drake on Twitter at @drakekizer_.