Southern Miss junior outfielder Matt Wallner (Forest Lake, Minn.) became the highest Golden Eagle baseball player ever selected in the Major League Baseball Player Draft Monday night by the Minnesota Twins.
Wallner got chosen with the No. 39 pick in the Competitive Balance Round A, sandwiched between the first and second rounds, and became the first Golden Eagle taken by the Twins since Tyler Koelling was chosen in the 19th round in 2011. Former Golden Eagle Brian Dozier was the only other Southern Miss player ever to be taken by the Twins, earning an eighth-round selection in 2009 and played with parent club from 2012-2018.
The previous highest Golden Eagle pick was Tommy Davis at No. 54 in the 1994 draft by the Baltimore Orioles.
Wallner was also selected by the Twins with the No. 963 overall pick in the 32nd round of the 2016 MLB draft, but he opted to play at Southern Miss instead.
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 right field 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 Tournament 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. He also earned C-USA Hitter of the Week (May 19) during the final week of the regular season.
Wallner ranks fifth on the career charts for RBI (190), sixth in slugging percentage (.652), seventh in total bases (449) and first in walks (141). He enjoyed a season-high nine-game hitting streak late in the season, ending in the first LSU regional contest. He finished third in multi-hit games (17 two-hit, 5 three-hit, 1 four-hit) with 23 and first in multi-RBI games (9 two-RBI, 3 three-RBI, 3 four-RBI and 1 five-RBI) with 16.