HATTIESBURG – Southern Miss right-handed pitcher J.C. Keys (Hattiesburg, Miss.) heard his name called Wednesday afternoon in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft.
Keys, the four-year letterwinner from Oak Grove High School, was taken in the 23th round by the Cincinnati Reds (pick No. 684). He is the first Golden Eagle taken by the Reds since Braxton Whitehead was chosen in the 14th round of the 1997 draft.
Keys appeared in 22 games in 2019, all in relief, as he saw action in 63 career games on the mound for Southern Miss. He posted a 2-1 record with a 4.65 ERA over 31 innings of work, while fanning 49 and walking 27 as opponents hit just .189 off of him during the year.
He also finished second on the team with three saves.
Keys’ best outing of the year came in a victory in relief over Ole Miss (5/1) in which he fanned six and did not allow a run, hit or walk over 2 2/3 innings. In addition, Keys posted a three-inning outing versus Holy Cross (3/8, G2) in which he whiffed a career-high tying seven over three innings to earn a save. He gave up an unearned run on three hits over two innings with no walks and four strikeouts to defeat ULM (3/19)
During the year, Keys fanned at least three batters in nine appearances and only allowed four extra-base hits during the year – all doubles.
Keys, along with Matt Wallner who was taken during the draft’s first day in the Competitive Balance Round A, were the lone Golden Eagles taken in 2019.