Carter selected No. 56 overall by Tampa Bay Rays, becomes highest pick in WKU history

Brad Stephens

WKU standout centerfielder Kes Carter made history on Monday.

Carter was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays as the No. 56 overall pick in the compensational round of the 2011 MLB First Year Player Draft, making him the highest drafted player in WKU history.

He replaces former Topper third baseman Wade Gaynor – who was the No. 89 overall pick by the Detroit Tigers in 2009 – with that distinction.

“It’s a blessing to be in the conversation of the top rounds in the draft,” Carter said in an official release. “I always have to go back to thanking God every time for giving me these talents and abilities. I am excited about the opportunity to play for Tampa Bay.”

Carter, praised in his time with the Toppers for being a “five-tool” outfielder, was an All-Sun Belt Conference selection in both 2010 and 2011.

He played in 153 games during his three years at WKU, hitting .350 with 35 doubles, 15 home runs, 113 RBIs and 26 stolen bases.

Carter also starred defensively, committing just seven errors in his Topper career.

“Along with Wade Gaynor, we now have had the two highest draft picks in WKU history in the last three years,” WKU Head Coach Chris Finwood said in a release. “Both of these young men really developed during their career here at WKU.”

Carter was drafted out of high school by the Florida Marlins in the 43rd round of the 2008 MLB Draft, but chose to play at WKU instead.

Carter was one of Tampa Bay’s 10 selections on the draft’s first day, the highest number of picks for any team. He was the first Sun Belt player to be selected in this year’s draft

It’s possible that Carter will eventually play minor league baseball in Bowling Green, just miles from where he starred at WKU. The Bowling Green Hot Rods are the Single-A affiliate of the Rays.

The draft continues Tuesday at 12 p.m. with rounds 2-30, and on Wednesday with rounds 31-50.

Toppers likely to be drafted include catcher Matt Rice, shortstop Logan Robbins, outfielder Jared Andreoli, and reliever Phil Wetherell.