Missouri pitcher Brett Graves selected by Oakland A’s in third round

06/06/2014 2:32 PM

06/06/2014 4:22 PM

Missouri junior right-hander Brett Graves was the 101st overall selection Friday by the Oakland Athletics in the third round of the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Graves, 21, a native of St. Charles, Mo., becomes the fifth Tigers’ pitcher taken in the first three rounds of the draft since 2006.

During his junior season, Graves, 6 feet 1 and 190 pounds, went 3-6 with a 3.87 ERA in 14 starts. He struck out 64 with only 18 walks in 93 innings and went at least seven innings in nine starts.

Graves, who was the Southeastern Conference’s co-pitcher of the week in early March, features a mid-90s fastball, which can touch 97. His slider is a solid second pitch with an improving changeup, giving him a chance to develop into a starter at the major league level.

He joins Max Scherzer (Arizona, first round, 2006), Aaron Crow (Washington, first round, 2008; Royals, first round, 2009), Kyle Gibson (Minnesota, first round, 2009) and Rob Zastryzny (Cubs, second round, 2013) as top-round picks from Missouri in recent seasons.

Graves is the eighth Tigers player in history drafted by the A’s and the first since southpaw Dave Otto, a second-round picks (No. 39 overall) in 1985.

Fellow Missouri right-hander Keaton Steele, a redshirt junior, was selected in the eighth round (No. 230 overall) by the Twins.

Steele, 22, missed the 2011 season after shoulder surgery. The Iowa Western Community College transfer was the only NCAA Division I player to lead his team in home runs, wins and saves as a junior.

He features a mid-90s fastball and slider, but his changeup must develop for him to remain as a starter professionally.

Steele focused on pitching this spring, going 0-8 with a 3.07 ERA and nine saves. He struck out 56 with 18 walks in 67 1/3 innings.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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