Oberacker goes to Oakland in 25th round of MLB draft
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Oakland takes another from Tennessee Tech as senior Chad Oberacker was drafted in the 25th round of the 2011 MLB First Year Player Draft. The 766th pick overall, Oberacker will join former teammate A.J. Kirby-Jones with the A's organization.
The selection will serve as an exceptional ending to the Erie, PA., native's final season as a Golden Eagle – a season which he easily could have forgone after last year's draft, when he was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 19th round. However, the team's veteran center fielder, and this year's primary southpaw, decided to return for his senior season, earning his fourth varsity letter with Tech as well as his diploma.
Named the Ohio Valley Conference's pre-season Player of the Year and to three pre-season All-America teams by College Baseball Lineup (first team), Louisville Slugger (second team) and the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association (NCBWA, third team), Oberacker shattered the Tennessee Tech school record for career hits early in the season on the road against Kentucky. His 4-for-5 performance at the plate against the Wildcats gave him 216 total hits, surpassing Chad Malone's previous record of 213 career hits. He went on to notch a total of 65 hits over the course of the season to set a new school precedent of 254 hits in a single career.
Oberacker capped off this season hitting at a .325 mark (65-200) after starting all 52 contests on the Golden Eagle schedule. He racked up 22 extra-base hits, including 10 home runs to tie the team high and put him at fifth place in conference standings in that category.
He also led the line-up with a slugging percentage of .545 – a statistic that ranked eighth in the OVC – and his plate performances, which included a team-leading 33 walks, helped to fuel his .433 on-base percentage and earned him 48 RBI on the year.
Additionally, Oberacker saw significant time on the hill for Tech, making five starts in 13 appearances for a grand total of 46.1 innings pitched for the Golden Eagles. He struck out 47 batters and allowed just eight extra-base hits, none of which went yard, en route to a 2-2 overall record and 4.08 ERA.
His efforts both offensively and defensively – including a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage this season – earned him a first team All-OVC spot at the utility player position, and culminated in this priceless opportunity to venture into the big leagues.
"Obviously we're very excited for Chad and the fact that he has the chance to go play pro baseball," Tech head coach Matt Bragga said. "He's a great player and definitely the type of guy that I can honestly see playing in the big leagues.
"The other neat thing is that he's with the A's, which is A.J.'s [Kirby-Jones] organization," Bragga continued. "Those guys are great friends, so spring training next year will be a great time for them."
Kirby-Jones, who was drafted in the ninth round after his junior year in 2010, currently plays with the Athletics' Class-A affiliate, the Vancouver Canadians, and was named Most Valuable Player by the Canadian's manager Rick Magnante and his staff after his minor league debut with Vancouver.
"This is the dream that every guy to play the game works towards, and it's amazing to have it finally happening," Oberacker said immediately following his draft selection. "It was tough to walk away from the dream last year, but my team, and my degree, have always meant a lot to me – it was important for me to finish out my career at Tech.
"Now, I'm getting the chance to play ball with A.J. again, which is something that I'm pretty pumped about," he continued. "Oakland is a great organization, so I'm excited to get out there and make the most of this opportunity."