Western Kentucky University junior center fielder Kes Carter became the highest draft pick in the Hilltoppers' 92-year history Monday when he was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays with the 56th overall pick in the supplemental first round of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft.
"It's a blessing to be in the conversation of the top rounds in the draft," Carter said. "I always have to go back to thanking God every time for giving me these talents and abilities. That is who I thank every night before I go to bed. As I said, it's just a blessing to be in the conversation for getting drafted period and having the chance to play at the next level. I am excited about the opportunity to play for Tampa Bay."
Western Kentucky has had just four other players selected in the top five rounds since the draft began in 1965.
Wade Gaynor was taken in the third round (89th overall pick) by Detroit in the 2009 draft. Greg Raymer was drafted in the fifth round by San Diego in the 1982 draft.
Paul Jackson was a fourth-round selection by Cincinnati in 1989 and and Steve Stemle was a fifth-round pick by St. Louis in 1998.
The Hilltoppers have had at least one player selected in each of the last 31 drafts.
Carter was second on the team with 17 doubles, a .549 slugging percentage and a .430 on-base percentage this past season. He put together a 14-game hitting streak from March 23 to April 13, hitting .416 with three RBI and three home runs during the stretch.
He finished with a .344 batting average, seven home runs and 40 RBI.
Carter his .350 during his career with 35 doubles, 15 home runs, 113 RBI and 26 stolen bases in 153 games.