By Chris Hill
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Canisius College baseball players Connor Panas and Devon Stewart were selected in the 2015 Major League Baseball draft in the ninth round by the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians, respectively, on Tuesday. The two teammates nearly got drafted back-to-back, as Panas, the Toronto, Ontario native was picked by his hometown team with pick No. 272, and Stewart was selected with pick No. 274. The selections are the highest a Canisius player has been chosen since 1994 when the Boston Red Sox took Joe Mammott in the sixth round.
The Golden Griffin duo are the program’s 10th and 11th MLB draftees, while it’s the third-straight year a member of the Blue and Gold has had his name called during the draft. The Griffs have also had a member selected in six of the last seven draft years.
The 2015 MAAC Championship MVP, Panas closed out his senior season by hitting .372 with 17 doubles, seven triples, 11 home runs, 68 RBI and 65 runs scored as the Blue and Gold secured its second trip the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship in the last three seasons.
An All-MAAC First-Team selection, the infielder led the conference in five different offensive categories and he became the second player in Canisius history to be named the MAAC Championship MVP after he hit .500 (13-for-26) with three extra-base hits, 10 runs scored and 12 RBI in six games May 20-24 in Fishkill, N.Y. For the season, he posted a .632 slugging percentage; a .472 on-base percentage and he ended the year ranked fifth in the MAAC with his 19 stolen bases on 24 attempts.
Two weekends ago at the NCAA Springfield Regional, Panas became the first Canisius player in school history to hit a home run in an NCAA Tournament game when he went yard in the first inning against No. 8 Missouri State, and on Thursday Panas became the second player in program history to earn CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-America status for the second time in his career.
Stewart finished his Canisius career with 24 wins, a 4.17 ERA and the second-most strikeouts by a Canisius hurler with 222. The senior pitcher completed the season in third-place in the MAAC for strikeouts with 72 and ranked seventh in the conference in ERA with a 3.65 mark. Stewart also completed the season tied for the conference lead in wins with seven. The Maple Ridge, British Columbia native finished with no fewer than five wins in each of his four years with the Blue and Gold.
In 2012 Stewart received the MAAC Rookie of the Year award as well as being named a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American. This past season Stewart was honored by the conference by being named to the All-MAAC second team.
Aside from his yearly accolades with the conference, the starting pitcher also was named MAAC Pitcher of the Week twice in his collegiate career (2013 and 2014) as well as being named MAAC Rookie of the week once in 2012.
The Griffs wait to see if any other players will be drafted on the third day of the event with rounds 11-40 being picked Wednesday
Canisius Draft Picks
• Connor Panas – 2015 (Toronto Blue Jays, 9th round)
• Devon Stewart – 2015 (Cleveland Indians, 9th round)
• Rohn Pierce # - 2014 (Seattle Mariners, 19th round)
• Garrett Cortright # - 2013 (Baltimore Orioles, 40th round)
• Sean Jamieson - 2011 (Oakland Athletics, 17th round)
• Chris Cox - 2011 (Toronto Blue Jays, 39th round)
• Shane Davis - 2011 (Toronto Blue Jays, 42nd round)
• Steve McQuail # - 2010 (Toronto Blue jays, 30th round)
• Kevin Mahoney - 2009 (New York Yankees, 23rd round)
• Kevin Mailloux - 2009 (Seattle Mariners, 45th round)
• Joe Mamott # - 1994 (Boston Red Sox, 6th round)
# - selected as a juniorP