Five Huskers Chosen in MLB Draft

Lincoln – The Nebraska baseball program continued its historic season on Tuesday, as five players were picked in the opening day of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

Alex Gordon was a first-round selection (No. 2 overall) to the Kansas City Royals, while Brian Duensing (No. 83, Minnesota) and Zach Kroenke (No. 169, New York Yankees) were taking in the third and fifth rounds, respectively. It marked the first time in school history that Nebraska had three players selected in the top five rounds of the draft. Joe Simokaitis and Curtis Ledbetter rounded out the five selections, as Simokaitis was taken by the Chicago Cubs in the 10th round (No. 310 overall), while Ledbetter was picked in the 18th round by Seattle (No. 533 overall). 
A two-time first-team All-American and Golden Spikes Award Finalist, Gordon enters this weekend's Super Regional with Miami batting .382 with 18 homers and 62 RBIs, while ranking among the Big 12 leaders in every offensive category. He is a career .356 hitter who ranks on NU's top-10 career list in doubles (53, 3rd), total bases (441, 4th), homers (43, 4th), RBIs (185, 5th), walks (134, 8th), hits (237, 9th), triples (11, 10th) and hit-by-pitches (35, 2nd). Gordon is Nebraska's fifth first-round pick and the first since Darin Erstad (No. 1) and Alvie Shepherd (No. 21) were both selected in the first round of the 1995 draft.
Duensing became the first Husker pitcher to be selected, as he was picked in the third round by the Minnesota Twins. The left-hander from Omaha is 8-0 with a 2.60 ERA in 21 appearances after missing nearly two full seasons with an elbow injury. Duensing earned Collegiate Baseball's National Pitcher of the Week honors after throwing 15.0 consecutive shutout innings at the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City two weeks ago. An honorable-mention All-Big 12 pick, Duensing's selection is the second-highest by a Husker under pitching coach Rob Childress.
Kroenke became the second Husker pitcher tabbed two rounds later, as he was taken by the New York Yankees. A two-time All-Big 12 selection, Kroenke is 20-9 with a 2.81 ERA in his Husker career, ranking on NU's top-10 career list in wins (20, 7th), strikeouts (191, 7th), starts (40, 6th), shutouts (two, 9th) and innings pitched (253.1, 8th). This season, he is 7-2 with a 2.61 ERA in 18 appearances, as he leads the Big 12 with four complete games and is eighth in ERA.
Simokaitis was the fourth pick in the first 10 rounds, as he went to the Chicago Cubs. The three-time All-Big 12 shortstop is enjoying his best season at NU in 2005, hitting .300 with 35 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. Simokaitis is a four-year starter who holds school and conference records for career assists (676) and has a school-record 202 assists this season. This spring, the St. Louis, Mo., native has committed eight errors in 285 chances, including a stretch of 159 straight chances without an error earlier this season.
Ledbetter was the third Husker infielder taken on Tuesday, as he was selected in the 18th and final round of day one. The only one of the five who had been drafted before (39th round by Cleveland in 2000), Ledbetter earned first-team All-Big 12 honors for the second time in his career in 2005 and comes in to the Super Regional with a .336 average with 13 homers and 54 RBIs. He ranks among the league leaders in five offensive categories, including third in hits (90), fourth in homers and total bases (149) and sixth in doubles (18). A three-year starter, he is fifth on NU's career list with 47 homers and is ninth with 164 RBIs.
The remainder of the 50-round draft continues Wednesday morning.

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