The Citadel baseball’s left-handed pitcher JP Sears was drafted 333rd overall by the Seattle Mariners in the 11th round of the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday.
Sears becomes the 50th Bulldog to be drafted since 1965 and the first since 2015 when The Citadel had three players drafted. He is the 14th Bulldog to be drafted in the first 11 rounds. Sears is the second player in program history drafted by the Mariners after T.A. Fulmer was selected by Seattle in the 13th round in 2002.
The Citadel southpaw has had one of the best pitching seasons in program history, receiving numerous national awards. Sears has already been selected a second-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, a third-team member by Baseball American and a member of the fourth team by College Sports Madness with more awards potentially to come.
Sears is The Citadel baseball’s first All-American since 2013 when Joe Jackson was named a third-team member by Collegiate Baseball and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Sears is the fifth player to be selected to the second team by Collegiate Baseball with the last by Asher Wojciechowski in 2010.
Sears was also named a semifinalist for USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes award on May 31. He is just one of 25 players across the country in all levels of collegiate baseball to be named a semifinalist for the prestigious award and is the lone Southern Conference representative. Past winners of the award include MLB stars Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Buster Posey and Kris Bryant.
Sears continues to lead the nation in strikeouts with 142 and ranks third in strikeouts per nine innings with 13.41 despite not having pitched in three weeks. He was selected the Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year after finishing the regular season with a 7-2 record and 2.03 earned run average.
The southpaw had arguably the most dominant start in college baseball this season when he struck out 20 batters in a two-hit, complete game shutout of VMI on March 24. The 20 strikeouts are tied for the most in program history and the most by a single pitcher in Division I this season.
Sears’ 20-strikeout game came 364 days after he struck out 19 batters at VMI last season. After the record performance, Sears owns two of the top-six strikeout totals in Southern Conference history.
The Sumter, South Carolina, native posted seven double-digit strikeout games in 14 starts, including reaching 15 strikeouts on three occasions. Sears struck out at least 11 batters in his final three regular season starts, all victories.
Sears’ season ranks among the best in The Citadel history, finishing with the fifth most strikeouts in a season, despite pitching just the 22nd most innings. His 13.41 strikeouts per nine innings rank fourth in a single season in program history while his 317 career strikeouts are good for third all-time in the Bulldog record books.