NEW ALBANY, Ind. - Grenadier outfielder Cameron Conner became the first IU Southeast baseball player to be drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise on June 8.

The Kansas City Royals drafted Conner with the 599th overall pick on the second day of the 2010 first-year player draft. Conner received the fourth overall pick in the 20th round of this year's draft a little after 5:30 p.m.

"It feels great to be the first player drafted from IU Southeast," said Conner. "It is a bit overwhelming but I feel blessed to have been given this opportunity. I was watching the coverage from my apartment in New Albany, and was excited when I heard and saw my name."

It did not take long for coaches, teammates and friends to start congratulating Cameron. "My phone starting going off about two minutes later. It was a really neat experience that I won't soon forget."

Conner is a 6-foot-2 left-handed junior from Frankfort, Ky. (Franklin County H.S.). Conner played two seasons of basketball at Kentucky State University and a single season of baseball before transferring to IU Southeast last year.

Conner says that despite the draft pick he is still not completely satisfied with where his game is currently. "I want to continue to work hard and improve in the areas that will help make me and the organization better. Hard work got me here and hard work will continue to get me where I want to be in my baseball career."

IU Southeast Head Baseball Coach Ben Reel knew that Conner's hard work was what was going Royals Logo to pay off for him. "Cameron's draft selection was really a culmination of all his hard work and effort," he said. "He listened to our coaching staff all season long and worked very hard every day to help our team which impressed the Royals' organization."

In the next few days Conner will sit down with representatives from the Royals organization for contract negotiations. Once signed, Conner expects to report somewhere within the Royals minor league system within the next week.

Coach Reel believes that having the school's first baseball draft pick will help open the eyes of others in the area about the success of the IU Southeast baseball program. "We play a great caliber of baseball here at IU Southeast," said Reel.

"Our goal is to prepare these young men for whatever their next step in life might ultimately be. That includes, for some like Cameron, an extended career in professional baseball," said Reel.

Coach also believes that Conner's success will also debunk another myth that commonly surrounds smaller baseball programs. "A lot of athletes believe that you have to go to a large school to be drafted. That is simply not the case," Reel said. "If you have good skills and are a great player who works hard then you can play at the next level and will be noticed."

Conner believes his teammates played a significant role in helping him get to this point. "Those guys helped by believing in me and working with me before and after practice to improve my game," said Conner. "They gave me so much encouragement and I am appreciative. This was a great year of baseball."

As a member of one of the most successful baseball teams in IU Southeast history, Conner was named to the KIAC All-Conference First Team. Conner also helped lead IU Southeast to its first appearance at the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round with a 39-20 overall record this season. He also earned a KIAC Gold Glove Award as one of the conference's top three defensive players in the outfield.

Conner finished up the 2010 season with a .399 batting average. He played in all 59 games this season for the Grenadiers. He appeared in 189 at-bats with 72 runs, 64 hits, and four doubles with a .439 slugging percentage. Conner also led the Grenadier baseball team with 44 total stolen bases this season allowing him to finish the year ranked fourth in the NAIA for stolen bases.

Conner was the ninth overall player drafted from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). A total of 39 players were selected for the NAIA ranks over the three day draft.
Photo Credit: Tricia Spaulding, Frankfort State-Journal -- Cameron Conner shakes hands with Jason Bryans of the Kansas City Royals Thursday night as he signs with the team at his parents' Frankfort home. Conner is a 2006 graduate of Franklin County High School and has been playing baseball at Indiana University Southeast.