YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State junior pitcher Justin Thomas was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the fourth round as the 113th overall pick in Tuesday's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Thomas, a 6-foot-3-inch left-hander from Oregon, Ohio, was the third pick in the fourth round and is the first Penguin chosen in the draft since Matt Brumit, by the New York Yankees in the 44th round in 2002. His fourth round selection is also the third-highest in school history behind Brad Hennessey (first round, 2001) and Chris Durkin (third round, 1991).
"Justin's just been a great player and person for us," YSU coach Mike Florak said. "He and his family have meant a lot to the program, and it's a happy day for everyone involved.
"He's going to keep getting better and better," added Florak. "He's got a very good fastball and slider, but what separates him is his competitiveness. He does whatever it takes to win."
Thomas ranks second all-time at YSU in career strikeouts with 250 -- one behind former major leaguer Dave Dravecky -- and third in career starts (36) and career innings pitched (2531/3). He is sixth in career victories (19) and he was the first pitcher in school history to earn seven wins in consecutive seasons. His 14 starts as both a sophomore and a junior set a school record, and he set the school mark in innings pitched in a season with 931/3 in 2004.
As a junior, Thomas was named Horizon League Pitcher of the Year after posting a 7-5 record with a 3.42 ERA and a career-high 88 strikeouts. He was 3-1 against league opponents with a 2.00 ERA. In his three conference wins, he allowed one earned run and struck out 33 in 27 innings.
Thomas was named Horizon League Pitcher of the Week twice and was named to the Collegiate Baseball Foundation's National Honor Roll three times.
As a sophomore, Thomas was 7-3 and struck out 82 in 931/3 innings, and was second team all-league. He earned the win against Butler in the first round of the Horizon League tournament and started against No. 1-ranked Texas in YSU's first NCAA tournament game.
Thomas is the fifth player to be drafted in Florak's seven years at YSU. In addition to Hennessey and Brumit, Mike Abdalla was chosen in the 40th round by Kansas City in 2000, and Mark Thomas was taken in the 21st round by Montreal in 1999.