ULL’s Kjerstad signs free-agent deal

LAFAYETTE — University of Louisiana-Lafayette outfielder Dex Kjerstad has chosen to forego his senior season as he agreed to a free-agent deal with the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.

Kjerstad, who hit a Sun Belt-best .388 and came within two hits of tying the school single-season record, went undrafted in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

He is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery and will take a flight to the Royals spring training facility in Surprise, Ariz., on Monday to begin rehab with team trainers.

“ULL was a positive experience for me and it is one that has had a huge impact on my life not only as a player, but more importantly as a person,” Kjerstad said. “And that is a reflection of the coaches, my teammates, the university and the Ragin’ Cajuns fans.

“Playing professional baseball has always been my dream and it’s what I am ready to do,” Kjerstad added. “It was the toughest phone call I’ve ever had to make to tell the coaches my decision.”

A first-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection, Kjerstad led the Cajuns with 32 multiple-hit games in his lone season with the program.

The Amarillo, Texas, native recorded 99 hits and ranked Top 20 nationally in average (.388), runs (63) and hits. He hit .408 in Sun Belt play and was tops among state players in total bases with 155 leading to newcomer of the year accolades from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

Kjerstad started his collegiate career at the University of Texas in 2011, but transferred to Howard College after his freshman season. He later signed with ULL during the 2012 spring signing period.

“We are glad to see such a hard worker and good person get an opportunity to start his professional baseball career,” coach Tony Robichaux said. “Dex’s ability will be missed, but more importantly his clubhouse and off the field character. We wish him the best of luck and this will open the door for another player to step up.”

Kjerstad will join several notable Cajuns in professional baseball, which includes current Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy and Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Danny Farquhar at the major league level. The list of notable Cajuns in the minor league ranks includes: Chad Beck, T.J. Geith, Jordan Harrison, Chase Lambin and Dayton Marze.