OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – Ole Miss baseball junior shortstop Grae Kessinger became the first Rebel taken on off the board in the 2019 MLB Draft on Monday night, becoming the 174th MLB Draft pick in Ole Miss history and the 107th in the Mike Bianco era.
Kessinger was chosen No. 68 overall in the second round by the Houston Astros, making him the 11th Rebel taken in the top two rounds in the Bianco era. Ole Miss has now had a player chosen in the first or second round in three of the last four seasons.
The early draft selection comes as no surprise for the junior out of Oxford, Mississippi. Kessinger has already been named Third Team All-American, First Team All-SEC and a finalist for the Brooks Wallace Award, given annually to the top shortstop in college baseball.
Kessinger, who was also named the Rebels' team MVP, led Ole Miss to a No. 12 national seed in the NCAA Tournament and a runner-up finish in the SEC Tournament. Kessinger and Co. begin play in the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional on Saturday.
He enters super regional play with a .332 batting average for the season. He has scored 63 runs and driven in 47, while tallying 18 doubles and five home runs. He's been efficient at the plate as well, drawing 40 walks while striking out just 32 times in 262 at-bats. His .427 on-base percentage is third on the team. Additionally, Kessinger is 16-for-19 in stolen bases.
The Rebel shortstop was particularly proficient in SEC play, leading the conference with 51 hits against league competition. His .405 batting average and .472 on-base percentage were good for second during the conference season. He was also among the top 10 in the league in doubles, total bases, slugging percentage, RBI and stolen bases.
Kessinger has been outstanding in the field as well. In addition to numerous spectacular plays that have earned him spots on the SportsCenter Top 10 and the NCAA's Plays of the Week, Kessinger has made just eight errors with 94 putouts and 153 assists. He has made just three errors in his last 42 games.
Ole Miss will take on No. 5 overall seed Arkansas this weekend. The best-of-three series will begin at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday, June 8, on ESPN.