Raph Rhymes taken by Detroit Tigers on final day of MLB draft

A year after being selected in the 30th round of the MLB draft by the New York Yankees, LSU outfielder Raph Rhymes did not flirt with a .500 batting average and was not named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year.

But the senior from Monroe, who returned to LSU in hopes of helping the Tigers reach the College World Series, went 15 rounds higher in the draft this year.

Rhymes was taken early Saturday on the third and final day of the MLB draft, going to the Detroit Tigers as the No. 456 overall pick in the 15th round. He joined three LSU teammates — catcher Ty Ross, pitcher Chris Cotton and third baseman Christian Ibarra — who were taken on the final day.

Ross went to the San Francisco Giants with the 372nd pick in the 12th round; Cotton to the Houston Astros with the 407th pick in the 14th round; and Ibarra to the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 959th pick in the 32nd round.

The last four selections brought LSU’s total number of draft picks to 10.

Of the high school players who have signed with LSU, only Venice (Fla.) High outfielder Nick Longhi, the 893rd pick overall, was taken in the draft on the final day.

Other players drafted Saturday include Southern pitcher Jose De Leon, who went to the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 724th pick.

De Leon went 4-3 for Southern as a junior this past season, striking out 73 batters in 82.1 innings and earning first-team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference honors. He had a 3.28 ERA.

University High outfielder Steven Sensley went to the Minnesota Twins with the 980th pick after helping lead the Cubs to the Class 2A state championship game this spring. Dutchtown right-hander Cole Stapler was taken by the Miami Marlins with pick No. 1,042.

Tulane senior right-hander Alex Byo, a Parkview Baptist graduate, went to the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 990th pick.

He was one of three Green Wave prospects taken Saturday, joining third baseman Garrett Cannizaro (pick 547, by the Angels) and right-hander Tony Rizzotti (748, by the Padres).

Rhymes led the nation with a .431 average in 2012 after hitting .500 deep into the season, then slipped to the 30th round of the draft. He entered Saturday’s game against Oklahoma in the Baton Rouge Super Regional batting .340 with four homers this season.

Unlike last year, Rhymes did not have the option of returning to LSU for another year — one reason he likely dropped beyond the middle rounds as a junior.