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UConn Baseball Pitcher John Russell Selected in the 16th Round of MLB Draft

The Giants pick UConn’s closer for the second straight year.

Photo: Ian Bethune - Graphic: Daniel Connolly

UConn baseball now has two 2017 MLB Draft picks after the San Francisco Giants selected closer John Russell in the 16th round, 468th overall, of the 2017 MLB Draft.

As a junior, Russell still has eligibility remaining and can decide whether to sign with San Francisco or return to UConn for his senior season. The deadline to sign is 11:59 PM on August 15.

It is the second straight season the Giants have selected the Huskies’ closer as they took Pat Ruotolo in the 27th round last year.

After Rutolo’s departure, Russell took over the closing role and excelled, setting the school record for saves in a season with 14. He finished the year with a 2.84 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 38.0 innings, holding opponents to a .196 batting average.

Russell, a product of Glastonbury High School, first played at UConn Avery Point for his freshman season. After a stellar year, he transferred to Storrs but saw limited action as a sophomore, tossing just 4.1 innings of relief.

Entering the 2017 campaign, Russell was highlighted as a potential breakout candidate and blew away nearly all expectations.

It is unclear whether Russell will sign with San Francisco or stay at UConn. As a relief pitcher, it’s hard to imagine him increasing his stock much more. However, with another strong season he could enter the 2018 draft as one of the top closing prospects in the nation.

If he does choose to leave, he will likely join the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, a short-season A club in the Northwest League.