LAFAYETTE, LA — A name was added to the list of Ragin’ Cajuns baseball alums in professional baseball on Monday, as junior left-hander Jordan Harrison agreed to terms with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Harrison will forego his senior collegiate season at the University of Louisiana as he signed a professional baseball contract with the Rays organization, which recently drafted him in the 25th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Harrison made 17 appearances on the mound for the Cajuns this past season, garnering six starts. The southpaw was UL’s Sunday starter in Sun Belt Conference play for the four series in April (WKU, FIU, USA, UALR).
Over the course of the 2012 season, he logged 50 innings and limited opponents to 43 hits and a .235 average. At season’s end, Harrison finished with a 3-3 record and 3.42 ERA.
A complete game, one-hitter with 11 strikeouts vs. Western Kentucky garnered Harrison Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week Honors on April 9. In his final outing in a Cajuns uniform, Harrison hurled five innings of scoreless, three-hit baseball against eventual Sun Belt Tournament champion La.-Monroe.
“I really enjoyed my time at UL and it was a very tough decision to make, having one year left,” Harrison said. “The reason I chose to sign was I felt that it was time to move on with my career. The fastest way to reach the big leagues is to start playing pro ball.”
Last week’s selection by Tampa Bay marked the second time Harrison was chosen in the MLB Draft. At the conclusion of his prep career at New Caney (TX) High School, he was selected by the New York Mets in the 36th round of the 2009 MLB Draft.
Contract details were not immediately disclosed. Harrison, who was pitching for the Victoria Generals of the Texas Collegiate League in the summer baseball ranks, has already reported to Port Charlotte, Fla., home of the Gulf Coast League Rays.
Harrison underwent physical examinations on Monday and was cleared to begin practicing with the GCL Rays on Tuesday. The GCL Rays regular season schedule gets underway on Monday, June 18 at the GCL Red Sox.
“Our program is proud of Jordan’s opportunity to sign a professional baseball contract,” head coach Tony Robichaux said. “It’s a dream of every little leaguer to one day be drafted and hopefully play major league baseball.
“It’s always bittersweet for us. We would like the player drafted to stay, but we also understand what’s ultimately at stake – a chance to play in the major leagues.”
Harrison joins former Ragin’ Cajuns lefty T.J. Geith in the Tampa Bay Rays’ farm system. Geith, drafted and signed by the Rays in 2011, is presently a member of the Rays’ Class A Advanced Affiliate Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Florida State League, also based in Port Charlotte, Fla.
Harrison joins several notable Cajuns in professional baseball, the most prominent being current Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Recently joining Lucroy at the Major League level was Chad Beck, who was recalled by the Toronto Blue Jays from Triple A Las Vegas on June 7.
The list of other notable Cajuns in the minor league ranks includes: Danny Farquhar, Alex Fuselier, Chase Lambin, Dayton Marze, Zach Osborne, and Greg Wilborn.
“It’s important to continue to develop players that can represent our program at the major league level,” Robichaux added. “We want players that are trying to play through us and not to us.”