Spencer Receives Royal Treatment

Tyler Sworden and Tyler Sworden

Just finishing his junior year playing baseball for the University, Derek Spencer was getting hints from a major league team that they might be interested in drafting him.

But the fantasy of playing professional baseball became a reality for the third baseman when he received the call of his life.

On June 11, Derek Spencer’s cell phone rang at 2:01p.m.: it was the Kansas City Royals calling, notifying him that he would be drafted on day two of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft.

‘It was a surreal feeling,’ Spencer said. ‘I had been looking forward to this moment for a long time.’

Spencer and the Royals have until Aug. 17 to finalize a contract. If Spencer is not signed within the time-share, or turns down their offer, he can return for his senior season and be eligible for a future draft.

Spencer, who was drafted in the 45th round (1352 overall selection), said the Royals had been in talks with him for a month before drafting him, but there was never a projection of where he would be picked.

‘I really never gave it much thought because I wanted to stay focused on my game while playing summer ball.’

The 21-year-old is fine-tuning his skills for the Outer Banks Daredevils (North Carolina), a team that is a part of the Coastal Plain League, and gives college baseball players a chance to play in a summer league. The Royals have been and will continue to follow his progress.

‘The CPL is probably about the third or fourth best summer league in the country for college players,’ Spencer said. ‘Most guys play summer ball if they have aspirations to better their game in the offseason and to work toward playing pro ball.’

Spencer heard of the Daredevils by word of mouth as other University players have participated in the league in years past.

Teams from Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina make up the CPL.

‘I love it down here, the guys are great, the coaches are great, the weather is great and there is a lot of stuff to do,’ Spencer said.

Spencer made his choice three years ago to attend the University over the University of Akron due to a more convincing offer from coach Danny Schmitz.

‘The program was down a bit but I had faith in Coach Schmitz to turn things around,’ he said.

The choice has paid off as the Falcons won their second straight Mid-American Conference regular season and East Division titles this past spring.

‘I’m happy Derek got drafted, it’s always great to see our kids gets that type of opportunity,’ Schmitz said.

Even though Schmitz would welcome back one of the better hitters on the team, he realizes the opportunity Spencer was given was truly a great one.

‘If Kansas City gives him the type of investment he is looking for, that would increase his long term chances of playing, then take it. If not, he should come back and finish his schooling and perhaps better his chances for next year’s draft with a productive senior year,’ Schmitz said.

From hitting the weight room to putting in extra hours in fielding and batting practice, Spencer said his three years at the University have helped him get where he is today.

‘Just knowing the system and expectations has made things more comfortable for me to gain confidence in myself.’

Derek Spencer – Player Profile: Hometown: Oregon, OH (Clay High School) Major: Business Bats and throws right-handed Originally a shortstop, changed positions to third base during his college career Ranks in the University baseball history: third in batting average (.379), tied seventh in RBIs (137), tied eighth in home runs (29) Second Team All-MAC selection in 2009 and First Team All- MAC selection in 2008, both at third base 2009 season: .385 batting average with 15 home runs, 59 RBIs, 50 runs scored and a .688 slugging percentage .423 average in league play