Today is Wednesday, October 22, 2014

CU's Locante turns pro

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By TOMMY BRYAN
Cumberland University's Will Locante agreed to terms with the Arizona Diamondbacks Monday, ending his collegiate baseball career.

Locante, a lefthanded pitcher from Memphis, was selected by the Diamondbacks in the 11th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in June, the Bulldogs' highest draft choice since 2006.

Locante flew to Phoenix Tuesday morning for a physical examination and will be most likely assigned to a short-season rookie league team.

"The Diamondbacks are a great organization, full of awesome coaches and instructors," Locante said. "Without the support of my parents, my girlfriend, and many others this would've been a much more stressful couple of months".

Locante was named Honorable MentionAll-America by the NAIA after registering an 8-2 record with a 2.11 ERA in 81.0 innings of work. The lefty posted 118 strikeouts and a .179 opponent batting average in 13 starts with eightcomplete gamesand a pair of shutouts.

Locante ranked second in the country in strikeouts per nine innings (13.11) and third in total strikeouts as well as seventh in opponent batting average and eighth in hits allowed per nine innings (5.67). He was selected 334th overall and is the highest drafted player for the Cumberland program since Aaron Solomon was taken 321st in the 11th round by the Seattle Mariners in 2006.

Chris Smith in 2001 (1st round,Baltimore Orioles, seventh overall selection) is the highest drafted player in program history, while Bud Willis (4th round,Kansas City Royals, 72nd overall, 1986), Greg Strickland (11th round, Atlanta Braves, 352nd overall, 1997) and Solomon are the only other players taken in the Top 11 rounds.

Luis Martinez (12th round,San Diego Padres, 387th overall, 2007) and Lance McClain (12th round,Boston Red Sox, 382nd overall, 2008) were the last Bulldog players selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

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