Kansas City Royals draft Michael Massey

Designated+hitter+Michael+Massey+stretches+during+a+break+in+game+two+of+the+doubleheader+against+Maryland+at+Illinois+Field+on+April+6.+The+Illini+lost+8-4.
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Kansas City Royals draft Michael Massey

Designated hitter Michael Massey stretches during a break in game two of the doubleheader against Maryland at Illinois Field on April 6. The Illini lost 8-4.

Designated hitter Michael Massey stretches during a break in game two of the doubleheader against Maryland at Illinois Field on April 6. The Illini lost 8-4.

Austin Yattoni

Designated hitter Michael Massey stretches during a break in game two of the doubleheader against Maryland at Illinois Field on April 6. The Illini lost 8-4.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Designated hitter Michael Massey stretches during a break in game two of the doubleheader against Maryland at Illinois Field on April 6. The Illini lost 8-4.

By JJ Kim, Assistant Sports Editor

With the 109th overall pick in the fourth round of the MLB draft, the Kansas City Royals selected Illinois’ junior second baseman Michael Massey.

Massey is the highest-selected middle infielder in Illinois history and became yet another Illini drafted within the first four rounds of the draft in the past two years. Last year, the Cincinnati Reds drafted Bren Spillane, the only Illini to ever win national player of the year, with the 82nd overall pick in the third round.

“It’s a testament to our coaching staff, especially Adam Christ, who I’ve been able to work with for the last few years. There have been a lot of good players (who) have come through this program. To be the highest one is an honor; I shift that credit to coach Christ and his ability to teach the game,” Massey said.

Massey was surrounded by his family Tuesday as they watched the draft in the kitchen on his computer.

“It was pretty surreal to be picked in the MLB draft,” Massey said. “It’s always been a dream come true for me. Just to hear my name called with so many other great players is an unbelievable feeling. It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I’m just grateful to the University of Illinois … and I couldn’t be more excited to be a Royal.”

Although he knew he’d most likely get chosen on day two of the draft, Massey had no idea where he’d get drafted.

“I didn’t really know what round it would be in with the back injury this year, and there was kind some question marks with that from a few teams, whether or not that was going to bump me down two rounds or whatnot,” Massey said. “To be able to go in the fourth round was just a blessing and an unbelievable experience.”

His ability to consistently create contact with the ball earned him All-Big Ten First Team honors this season, after hitting five home runs and 28 runs batted in along with a .317 batting average. He ended his career ranking in the school’s top 50 in career batting average.

When it comes to defensive anchors, Massey was as reliable as they come during his time in Champaign. He was the first Illini to ever win the Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2018 and was still a force when fully healthy during this past season. In his last 93 games, Massey only had one error to his name.

Now that he’s a member of the Royals, Massey says he’ll fly out to Arizona within the next couple of days where the team has a spring training facility to undergo physicals and proceed to commence his childhood dream.

@JJKimSports

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