116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — That thing back in 2019 was just practice.
Levi Usher was taken by the Los Angeles Angels in the 37th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft after a great freshman season at Kirkwood Community College.
It was a cursory pick, more or less, one in which the Angels didn’t really seriously intend to sign the outfielder. They never even extended him a contract offer.
But this year, yeah, this year is serious for Usher.
The Cedar Rapids Prairie grad hopes to get selected again by some team and has every intention of signing a contract with it. Though he’s got one more year of eligibility left at the University of Louisville, he’s ready to turn pro.
“Really, I’m just looking for a team that wants me,” Usher said Saturday. “If it goes perfectly, that’d be in the second day, sometime later in the second day. That would be ideal. But, really, I just want a team that wants me.
“Not really looking for a dollar amount, not too worried about where I go in the draft. I just hope a team has a lot of interest in me and is willing to pick me up. That’s how I’m kind of looking at it right now.”
The 2022 MLB Draft begins Sunday night with the first two rounds. It continues Monday with the third through 10th rounds, then concludes Tuesday with rounds 11 through 20.
The Baltimore Orioles have the very first pick.
Usher hit .285 in 64 games this season for Louisville, with 15 doubles, three triples and seven home runs. Defense is his calling card.
Put flatly, he can go get it in center field. You might remember the highlight of him climbing the center-field fence in a game this season against Clemson and robbing a hitter of a home run.
Usher was named the 2022 Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year and recently was awarded a Rawlings Gold Glove by the American Baseball Coaches Association.
“It just shows how much we put an emphasis on defense at Louisville,” Usher said. “Preaching every day that as an outfielder, it’s not really just an award for me, it’s a symbol of what we do at practice every day. It’s not really just my award, all the other outfielders (share in that).
“I mean, I always bust their chops about being the best at robbing home runs in practice, but I think everyone on the team has the ability to do that. I think I just got lucky having a few more opportunities.”
Other guys with local/area ties that could get drafted include Iowa City High senior pitcher Cade Obermueller. The southpaw is a University of Iowa signee and said after his team’s Class 4A substate final win Wednesday night over Bettendorf that though he’d see how the draft played out, he anticipated going to college.
Adam Mazur of the Hawkeyes was the Big Ten Conference Pitcher of the Year and should be picked within the first three rounds, according to most draft experts. First baseman Peyton Williams and outfielder Keaton Anthony also are draft-eligible guys from Iowa who could be taken.
Dubuque Wahlert senior Tommy Specht is an outfield prospect who could be a draft pick. Specht did not play high school baseball this summer, playing for the Clinton LumberKings of the Prospect League instead. He’s a University of Kentucky signee.
Winterset pitcher Justin Hackett is a Texas Christian signee who throws in the 90s and could be a draft pick.
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