Redshirt junior Adam Nelubowich plans to begin the next phase of his baseball career with the Houston Astros this summer after playing three years at WSU.
Of the four WSU players drafted during the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft on June 6-8, Nelubowich appears to be the only one leaving school to pursue a professional career in baseball.
Nelubowich was the 527th overall pick by the Houston Astros in the 18th round.
It will be hard to finally leave WSU, Nelubowich said, but he will begin to play in the New York-Penn minor league system sometime this week.
“Once a Coug, always a Coug is really a pertinent statement,” Nelubowich said. “Some of my closest friends at WSU were the guys on this team.”
For the 2013 season, Nelubowich led the Cougars with 14 doubles and posted a .299 batting average along with 34 RBI.
After receiving his degree last spring, Nelubowich said he will not have as many distractions off the field, which will give him more time now to focus on baseball.
“I really enjoyed playing in a competitive conference,” Nelubowich said. “I am more ready now for pro ball than I was when I was 18.”
However, redshirt sophomore Trace Tam Sing, who was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 26th round with the 774th overall pick, has decided to return to WSU for another year.
Last season, Tam Sing recorded a .280 average, including 17 RBI and 11 doubles for the Cougars after missing the 2012 season due to a season-ending injury.
“It was very important for me to play this year,” Tam Sing said. “I love Pullman, it’s a great community and a great place for school.”
Tam Sing said he knows he cannot play baseball forever and will stick to getting his degree at WSU.
Moreover, Sing said he became a solidifying shortstop this season for the Cougars and has developed the trades of a great shortstop.
“I’m honored to be in this year’s draft and I’m very proud of what I have accomplished,” Tam Sing said.
WSU Head Coach Donnie Marbut said he expects juniors Jason Monda and J.D. Leckenby to return to the Cougar lineup next year.
Monda, who was drafted in the sixth round with the 181st overall pick by the Philadelphia Phillies, led the Cougars in 2013 with 40 RBI and added seven home runs.
“He is getting better with experience and maturing as a player,” Marbut said.
Leckenby, who was selected by the New York Mets in the 14th round with the 416th overall pick, finished the 2013 season with a 4.62 ERA in 37 innings for the Cougars.
Leckenby also recorded 23 strikeouts and led the team with six saves in 25 appearances.
For next season, Marbut said the team has unfinished business, and the returning drafted players want to finish their college degrees and improve their draft status.
With the four players selected in the 2013 draft, Marbut has now seen 29 players drafted since he became head coach in 2005.
“We are in the best conference in the country,” Marbut said. “It’s fun to be a part of and see the kids develop their dreams.”