HARRISONBURG, Va., June 7, 2011 - James Madison junior catcher Jake Lowery (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) was selected in the fourth round, pick number 128 overall, by the Cleveland Indians and was followed in the 15th round by senior shortstop David Herbek (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) with the 471st pick in the 15th round by the Chicago White Sox during the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday afternoon.
"It was really neat," said Lowery of hearing his name. "The guy called me in the third round to see if everything was O.K. and if he could take me in the next round. Obviously I said 'of course.' It was cool to hear my name on the radio coverage. I had an idea it would be top 10 rounds but fourth round was really cool. I talked to three teams in the last few days, who making sure everything was good and if I would sign if selected. Cleveland didn't call me the last few days but had called in the last week."
Herbek said of his selection, "I was actually taking a nap so I wasn't listening to it. I received a few text messages before I got the call so I figured 'I guess I got picked.'
Announced Monday as a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award and the 11th catcher selected in 2011, Lowery is the 12th-highest draft selection in JMU history and the 57th overall for the program. He is the highest pick since former teammate Kevin Munson went 121st last year to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He joins other fourth-round picks Kurt Isenberg (110, 2001-03), Munson (121, 2008-10), Eddie Kim (122, 2000-03) and Doug Harris (124, 1988-90). He is JMU's highest position player pick since Kellen Kulbacki went in the supplemental first round in 2007. Lowery is also the third JMU player to be picked by Cleveland, joining Scott Mackie (7th, 1985-87) and Mike Butia (5th, 2002-04).
Herbek is the 58th overall draftee in program history and 31st to be picked in the first 15 rounds. He joins teammate Jake Lowery as 2011 draftees after Lowery was picked in the fourth round by the Cleveland Indians with pick 128 overall. Herbek is the second player in JMU history to be selected by Chicago, joining 2003 40th-round catcher Matt Deuchler. Greg Bulheller (1993-94, 1996) also signed with Chicago as a free agent.
"We're very happy for him and wish him all the best," commented JMU head coach Spanky McFarland on Lowery's selection. "To be honest, most college hitters will go through a couple bad weeks or bad games here and there. He had the occasional bad game, but he never did go through any kind of slump. He was pretty consistent through the whole year. He was everything you wanted in a player, consistent, very good and you knew what you were going to get. Even if he did have a bad day, he would bounce back. Towards the end of the season people would pitch around him. It was quite a season. We haven't seen anybody do anything like that since Kellen [Kulbacki]. Obviously we're going to miss him."
"David's a great story," commented head coach Spanky McFarland on Herbek. "He walked on and earned a starting spot halfway through his freshman year and kept getting better and better. He's one of only a few guys to win two CAA Championships in JMU history. He's a great leader and I'm so happy for him. It's a great story to walk on and work hard and improve enough to be a 15th rounder. I couldn't be happier."
It was a busy 48 hours for Lowery, who Sunday was named to the All-Regional Team in Chapel Hill as JMU ended its season as the regional runner-up. He led all players in the regional with eight RBIs and two home runs as he matched the JMU season record with his 24th long ball.
Late Monday, Lowery was announced as one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award as the nation's best catcher. He will travel along with fellow finalists Chris O'Brien (Wichita State) and Mike Zunino (Florida) to the 14th Annual Greater Wichita Area Sports Banquet on June 30 for the formal presentation of the award to be presented by Johnny Bench.
Lowery finished one of the most dominant offensive seasons in JMU history batting .359 with 22 doubles, eight triples, 24 home runs, 91 RBIs, 80 runs scored, 200 total bases and a .797 slugging percentage. He set or matched JMU and CAA records for RBIs, home runs, extra-base hits (54) and total bases in a season. He also finished fourth in CAA history with 80 runs and seventh for slugging percentage.
Through the completion of the NCAA regional round, Lowery leads the nation in runs (80), RBIs (91) and total bases (200). He is second in slugging percentage (.797), fourth in on-base plus slugging (1.239), second in home runs (24) and fourth in triples (8). Not to be overlooked defensively, Lowery ranked second in the nation prior to regionals for runners caught stealing.
In addition to being a Johnny Bench finalists, Lowery was one of 30 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award and one of 36 on the watch list for the Dick Howser Trophy, both given to the nation's top player. Collegiate Baseball newspaper bestowed upon Lowery the fourth First Team All-America honor in JMU history. He was the CAA Player of the Year, First Team All-CAA and selected to the CAA All-Tournament Team.
Lowery, who was at home with his mom and dad when the selection occurred, acknowledged the significance of his huge junior season, "Obviously it's huge. I knew I needed to have a big year and I came through with everything and more, especially the way the team finished getting to regionals. That helped my stock a little to get to regionals and face that kind of pitching."
Collegiate Baseball newspaper selected Herbek as a Second Team All-American. He was named with Lowery to the 36-player watch list for the Dick Howser Trophy awarded to the nation's best player. He was also among 25 semifinalists for the Brooks Wallace Award for the nation's best shortstop.
In his senior season, Herbek led JMU with a .362 batting average. He posted 83 hits, including 20 doubles and 15 home runs. He scored 56 runs and drove in 76 while posting a .672 slugging percentage and .443 on-base percentage. His RBI total is second in JMU history behind only the 91 posted by Lowery this season. He also ranks eighth for season doubles, seventh for season total bases (154), fourth for hit by pitches (17), first for season sacrifice flies (10) and 10th for assists (158).
For his four-year career, Herbek started 191 games and hit .341 with a .589 slugging percentage and a .952 fielding percentage, all at shortstop. He holds the JMU career records for hit by pitches (55, also CAA record) and sacrifice flies (25). He also ranks seventh in career at bats (745), sixth in games played (210), 10th in hits (254), sixth in runs (189), fourth in RBIs (195), second in doubles (62), sixth in home runs (35), fourth in total bases (439) and sixth in assists (506).
Once he realized that he would be in the same division as teammate Jake Lowery, Herbek said, "Hopefully I get to face him down the road and I can get some stolen bases."