Mike Mayers is getting closer to fulfilling a dream.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound right-handed pitcher and 2010 Grove City High School graduate was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the third round (93rd overall) of Major League Baseball's first-year draft on June 7.
Mayers, 21, played three seasons at the University of Mississippi but has decided to forgo his senior year to sign with the Cardinals. He joined the team's Class A team in the Gulf Coast League in Jupiter, Fla., and was scheduled to make his professional debut on July 2.
"If you're playing professional baseball and you don't have a dream to play in the big leagues, then you're in it for the wrong reason," Mayers said. "The goal is to get up there as quickly as I can and hopefully help the Cardinals win a few more world championships."
As a junior with Ole Miss this spring, Mayers had a 5-6 record with a 2.83 ERA, 73 strikeouts and 37 walks in 92 1/3 innings. He got the start in the opening game of the double-elimination NCAA Regional tournament in Raleigh, N.C., against William & Mary. He allowed three hits, six walks and four unearned runs in 4 2/3 innings in the Rebels' 4-2 loss.
Ole Miss bounced back to defeat Binghamton 8-4 on June 1 but was eliminated with a 4-1 loss to William & Mary on June 2.
Mayers was named Southeastern Conference Co-Pitcher of the Week on May 13, sharing the honor with Texas A&M's Daniel Mengden. He finished his college career 12-9 with a 3.42 ERA and 171 strikeouts in 215 innings.
"Mike was just tremendous for his three years at Ole Miss," Rebels coach Mike Bianco said. "He pitched in a variety of roles, but mostly as a starter his last two years. Mike is what you hope all recruits turn out to be: a great player but more importantly a great teammate, great student and great representative of Ole Miss."
Mayers was the 17th-ranked major-league prospect when he played for the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod League last summer. According to his scouting report on MLB.com, he "combines his low-90s fastball with a slider and changeup, which has plus potential" and he has "good command of all three of his pitches" but must "continue to refine his control." The report also gave him "high marks for his makeup and poise on the mound."
Mayers is hoping to follow former Ole Miss starting pitcher Lance Lynn to St. Louis. Lynn was drafted by the Cardinals in the first round in 2008 and is in his third season in the major leagues.
Lynn returned to Ole Miss this past spring and worked with the Rebels' pitchers, Mayers said.
As a senior at Grove City, Mayers went 4-2 with a 3.80 ERA and was named first-team all-district and all-league, as the Greyhounds finished 21-6, won the OCC-Ohio Division title and lost to Hilliard Davidson 4-1 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
As a junior with the Greyhounds, Mayers went 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 54 innings and was first-team all-league, all-district and all-state.
"Mike is always around our program in the winter, even every year he was at Ole Miss," Greyhounds coach Ryan Alexander said. "Our guys know him on a first-name basis. Our catchers have all caught him. It's great to have a guy like that in the program that always still wants to come around and be a part of it."
Mayers credits Alexander for his success at the collegiate level and having the chance to pitch professionally.
"Coach Alexander and I are really close," Mayers said. "He has a lot to do with this, just teaching me about work ethic. You can't control how much ability you have, but you can control and make sure that no one ever outworks you day in and day out. As long as you do that, you're going to do good things."