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Pair of Rice Owls drafted by different NL West teams

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Rice teammates Zech Lemond and Skyler Ewing could one day face off against each other in a NL West rivalry game.

Lemond was drafted Friday afternoon by the San Diego Padres in the third round of the Major League Baseball Draft. Ewing was taken in the sixth round by the San Francisco Giants.

Both players have finished their junior years of college, so they do have the option of returning to Rice for one more season.

The news of their drafting set off a congratulatory round of tweets from teammates, friends and Owls baseball fans.

Congratulations to my teammate @ZechLemond for being drafted today in the 3rd round! Proud of you man! Good luck, you deserve it! #HootyHoo,” tweeted Leon Byrd.

Lemond was considered by some to be a top 50 selection. He may have slid to 86th because he missed about six weeks of the 2014 season with elbow inflammation.

@Padres got a steal in #Rice RHP Zech Lemond as a third rounder,” tweeted Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA. “94-96 arm with a plus breaking pitch. One of the elite arms in CBB.”

Lemond seemed excited in his own tweet.

Just have to thank God for putting me here, and the @Padres for giving me this great opportunity to play for them!” he wrote.

For his collegiate career, Lemond is 12-3 with a 1.91 ERA and a total of 155 strikeouts in 165 innings over 62 Rice appearances. He was asked to both start and come out of the bullpen during the 2014 season. He was a relief pitch in 10 of his 15 appearances.

The Houston native notched three early saves and had 1.64 ERA in five early relief appearances. When No. 1 starter Jordan Stephens went out with an elbow injury in early March, Lemond was asked to be the Friday starter.

He was 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA as starter, often working deep into games. He averaged 7.1 innings as a starter and had a 3.3.-to-1 strikeouts to walk ratio. Lemond returned in time for the Conference USA Tournament. He pitched 6.2 innings in relief during the postseason, including winning a game over George Mason in the NCAA Regional opener on May 30.

Ewing started 62 games this season, including 54 at first base and seven at catcher. He led Conference USA in runs (57) and total bases (124) and tied for first in RBI (48). He was second in C-USA in hits (81) and home runs (9). The Arlington native reached base 42 percent of the time when leading off an innings. He had multiple hit games 25 times.

Ewing was named first-team all-Conference USA. He also was chosen for the C-USA All-Tournament Team and the All-NCAA Regional Team.

Here’s MLB.com's scouting report on Ewing:

“In a down year for position players in the state of Texas, Ewing intrigues scouts because he offers right-handed power potential and has a chance to become a catcher. After batting a combined .238 as a part-time player in his first two years at Rice, he won the Cape Cod League home run derby last summer and took a huge step forward as a junior.

“Ewing’s strength always has been evident, and he finally found success at the plate this spring by shortening his swing and improving pitch recognition. He can crush the best of fastballs and while he still can struggle against offspeed pitches, he’s making adjustments.

“Ewing hasn't caught regularly for the Owls, so it's hard to know whether he'll be able to stick behind the plate in pro ball. His marginal athleticism and slow release mitigate his arm strength, and he's a bit stiff as a receiver. Scouts laud his work ethic, which should help as he tries to make the transition to a full-time backstop.”

At publication time, the draft was in the 10th round. Rounds 11-40 will be held on Saturday.

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