June 10, 2009
KINGSTON, R.I. - Rhode Island's Nick Greenwood (Southington, Conn.), Dan Rhault (Lincoln, R.I.) and Luke Demko (Gilford, N.H.) join second-round draft pick Eric Smith (Milford, Conn.) as the second, third and fourth Rhode Island players taken in the 2009 MLB First Year Player Draft. Greenwood was selected by the San Diego Padres (414th, 14 round) while Rhault was picked by the Tampa Bay Rays (799th, 26th round) and Demko went to the San Francisco Giants (867th, 29th round).
For Rhode Island, the four draftees double the former program-high which was matched in 2003 when right-handed pitchers Reid Willett (21st Round - 613th pick, Chicago Cubs) and Jared Trout (28th Round - 842nd pick, Oakland Athletics) both were selected as juniors.
"It was a little nerve-racking," explained Greenwood. "We were listening to pick-after-pick online and just waiting. But its a pretty cool feeling when you hear them say your name. Its literally a dream come true - exciting, but also very humbling."
Greenwood - who paced the team with 74 strikeouts - finished his junior campaign with a 6.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Atlantic 10 games (42 strikeouts, seven walks) and was fourth in the conference with a .239 opposing batting average and a 3.15 ERA in league games. He turned in a team-best seven wins, including a victory over No. 25 Ohio State and a complete-game shutout over St. Bonaventure.
The Rhody southpaw and All-New England first team selection also earned A-10 All-Championship honors after giving up just two runs over eight innings of work in a 9-2 win over top-seeded Dayton. Most recently, he picked up the win in the 35th Annual New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) All-Star Game on June 4.
Greenwood was the second Ram selected in the 2009 draft as classmate Eric Smith was URI's highest-ever pick, taken 60th overall (second round).
"I was so happy for Eric last night," said Greenwood. "To hear one of your teammates' names called is exciting. We've all worked so hard to get where we are and we have an unbelievable amount of pride in this program so its nice to be able to share this excitement with my teammates."
Rhault, who received the 2009 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Award finished the season leading the team with a .393 batting average, 60 RBI, 12 home runs, three grand slams, 25 multiple-hit games, 15 multiple-RBI games, a .657 slugging percentage and a .460 on-base percentage.
His 60 RBI marked a new single-season record while he fell just one shy of the top spot for single-season hits and home runs. For his outstanding offensive performance, Rhault was an honorable mention on All-Ping!Baseball National Team as well as a first team ECAC All-Star and a second-team All-New England selection.
In the field, he contributed to 28 double plays and one triple play to help solidify his spot on the 2009 Brooks Wallace Award watch list - which honors the nation's top shortstop.
Demko - who set a new URI single-season record with 11 saves - was named to the Stopper of the Year Midseason Watch List. He earned the win in Rhode Island's season opener at NC State, striking out seven batters in 2.1 innings of relief and went on to give up just one hit over 4.1 innings in URI's victories over George Washington (two) and William & Mary. An Atlantic 10 second-team selection, Demko finished his senior season with a 3.27 ERA, striking out 44 batters and allowing just 27 hits over 33.0 innings of work.
Smith, Greenwood, Rhault and Demko are the sixth through ninth, respectively, Rhode Island baseball players to be drafted since 2003. Prior to Smith, Steve Holmes was URI's former highest pick, going to the New York Mets in the fifth round (154th overall) of the 2006 Draft. In 2005, Zack Zuercher was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals (ninth round, 290th overall) while Dan Batz went to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the in 2004 Draft (sixth round, 178th overall).
The 2009 draft continues on Thursday, beginning at 12:30 p.m.