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DALLAS – Conference USA had two players selected on the first day of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft and they are both heading to the same organization.

Southern Miss junior OF Matt Wallner became the highest Golden Eagle baseball player ever selected in the draft, being taken by the Minnesota Twins with the No. 39 pick in the Competitive Balance Round A, sandwiched between the first and second rounds.  He becomes the first player from C-USA to go in the first round since 2014.

Fifteen picks later, the Twins selected Rice junior RHP Matt Canterino with their second round choice.  Canterino’s pick represents the earliest a Rice player has gone in the draft since former National Player of the Year Anthony Rendon went No. 6 overall in 2011. 

Likely the most decorated Southern Miss baseball player in its history, with honors including being the consensus 2017 national Freshman of the Year and an All-America pick by almost every media outlet over his first two seasons, Wallner has played in all 189 games over this three-year career for the Golden Eagles, making 188 starts (10 in leftfield, 93 in centerfield, 67 in rightfield and 18 at designated hitter including once as both DH/P).

A co-captain this season as voted on by his teammates, he batted .323 during his junior campaign, with 12 doubles, 23 home runs and 60 RBI, earning Conference USA first-team honors. His home run total is tied with four other former Golden Eagles (Clint King 2003, Jeff King 2003, Bill Selby 1992, Fred Cooley 1989) for the most in a single season at the school.

Wallner became the school’s career home run king with 54 on the final day of the regular season with a pair of homers versus UAB (5/18). He added two more round-trippers in the C-USA Championship and two in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional to finish with 58 homers for his career.

He earned selection to the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional all-tournament team and was the C-USA Tournament Most Valuable Player, which included a 10th-inning, game-winning two-run homer against Rice in the C-USA opener. It was his second game-winning homer of his career and third game-winning hit.

Wallner ranks fifth on the Southern Miss career charts for RBI (190), sixth in slugging percentage (.652), seventh in total bases (449) and first in walks (141).

Canterino led C-USA pitchers in opposing batting average (.199) and strikeouts (121 – league-high 31 looking).  The right-hander also walked just 23 batters in a league-high 99.1 innings pitched, posting a 2.81 ERA.  He finished with a record of 6-5, with five of those wins coming in C-USA play.  In conference play, he struck out 82 batters in 69.0 innings.  Canterino struck out 10 or more batters in four games (all against conference opponents) and is among the NCAA leaders in strikeouts-per-nine innings at 10.8. 

C-USA’S 2019 MLB DRAFT PICKS

Rd.     Player                                    Pos.           School                         MLB Team
1 (C)   Matt Wallner                           OF            Southern Miss             Minnesota Twins
2         Matt Canterino                       RHP          Rice                             Minnesota Twins