Oak Grove native Keys signs pro deal with Cincinnati


HATTIESBURG – After enjoying four seasons of playing collegiate baseball for his hometown team, Southern Miss relief pitcher J.C. Keys takes the next step of his baseball journey tonight after signing with the Cincinnati Reds late last week.

Keys, who prepped at Oak Grove High School and lettered four years for the Golden Eagles, earned selection in the 23rd round (pick No. 684) of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft earlier this month.

The right-handed hurler appeared in 63 career games for the Golden Eagles and made 13 starts that included one complete game. He posted an 8-9 career record with four saves and fanned 140 over 133 2/3 innings with only 84 walks.

Both Golden Eagles that were drafted earlier this month, Matt Wallner being the other with the Minnesota Twins, have signed with their respective organizations.

Keys begins his professional career at the Rookie-level Greeneville (Tenn.) Reds of the Appalachian League. The Reds begin league play tonight as they play host to the Kingsport Mets. Game time is 5:30 p.m.