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BYU baseball: Four Cougars selected in 2022 Major League Baseball draft

Four BYU baseball players will have difficult decisions to make in the coming days after they were picked in the 2022 Major League Baseball draft in Los Angeles over the course of the last few days.

Four selections in the first 20 rounds of the MLB draft ties the school record for most draftees, joining the 2002, 1986, 1983, 1982 and 1979 BYU squads.

Here are the four Cougars who were taken:

• Second baseman Andrew Pintar was the first Cougar off the board, going in the fifth round to the Arizona Diamondbacks (138th overall). Pintar appeared in only 17 games for the Cougars in 2022 due an injury early in the year. In 2021, he was named to the Collegiate Baseball News Freshman All-American team and was the West Coast Conference Co-Freshman of the Year. 

Pintar is the first Cougar to be selected in the first five rounds of the MLB draft since Jacob Hannemann went in the third round to the Chicago Cubs in 2013. He is the third BYU player to be selected by the Diamondbacks, following Adam Miller (2013) and Chris Capper (2012). 

• Cy Nielson, a left-handed pitcher, was the second Cougar drafted in the eighth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates this week (230th overall).

Nielson appeared in 28 games out of the bullpen as a sophomore in 2022. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound lefty from Spanish Fork finished the year with a record of 3-0 and a 3.21 earned run average. Nielson struck out 45 batters over 33.2 innings and held opposing hitters to a .222 average. 

Nielson is just the second Cougar to be selected by the Pirates. The other was former BYU player and head coach Vance Law, who was taken in the 1978 draft by Pittsburgh and went on to play 11 MLB seasons. 

• Right-handed pitcher Nate Dahle was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 13th round on Tuesday (404th overall).

Dahle appeared in 25 games in 2022 with a 2-4 record and two saves. The 6-6, 235-pound junior from Tremonton finished the year with a 2.74 ERA and was second on the team in strikeouts with 61 in 42.2 innings. He is the first Cougar ever to be selected by Tampa Bay. 

• Another left-handed BYU pitcher, Cooper McKeehan, was taken in the 16th round by the Kansas City Royals. 

McKeehan finished the 2022 season with a 2-1 record and a 1.57 ERA. The 6-1, 195-pound sophomore from Matthews, North Carolina, appeared in 23 games, striking out 41 batters in 23.0 innings. He held opposing hitters to a team-best .160 batting average. 

McKeehan is the third Cougar to be selected by the Royals in the MLB draft, following Dave Jensen (2002) and Cliff Pastornicky (1980).

Since all four players have eligibility remaining, they will have to decide whether to sign pro contracts and move on, or return to Provo for at least another season.

Spanish Forks’s Cy Nielson pitches against Lehi during game at Spanish Fork High in Spanish Fork on Thursday, May 2, 2019. The former Don and BYU Cougar was selected in the eighth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates this week.

Deseret News, Silas Walker, Deseret News

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