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Three University of Miami Hurricanes heard their names called on Day Two of Major League Baseball's 2012 First-Year Player Draft Tuesday afternoon: senior catcher Peter O'Brien, junior righthander E.J. Encinosa and junior shortstop Stephen Perez.
O'Brien, who was named team co-captain after transferring from Bethune-Cookman to Miami for his final year of eligibility, was selected highest of any player on the active roster when the New York Yankees chose him with the 94th overall pick. The Miami Gardens, Fla. native, who headlined the 2012 All-ACC First Team at catcher, couldn't hold back his excitement when discussing the thought of joining baseball's most historic organization at a tradition-filled position.
"I'm excited to think of myself wearing pinstripes one day," O'Brien said. "It's amazing just to think some of the guys they've had play at that position. Hopefully some of them will still be around to teach me their ways. I just can't wait to get everything started."
Five rounds later, junior flamethrower E.J. Encinosa was scooped up by the San Francisco Giants in the seventh round at No. 238 overall. The 6-foot-6 righthander, who held opponents to a paltry .126 batting average against in 2012, finished with an impressive 2.79 ERA and a team-best eight saves this year. After moving into the starting rotation as a sophomore, the Miami, Fla. native made his return to the bullpen, where he earned Louisville Slugger All-America honors as a freshman in 2010, with marked success.
Encinosa feels like his time at Miami has already prepared him for the next step towards life as a professional baseball player. He has one final year of eligibility remaining as a Hurricane.
"At the University of Miami, you're expected to do great things. This year was a disappointment for us as a team, but it teaches you how to deal with adversity," Encinosa said. "This place prepares you for the next level, both mentally and physically. Miami is such a special place."
The Washington Nationals used their eighth-round selection (No. 264 overall) on junior infielder Stephen Perez, who provided Head Coach Jim Morris with a dangerous lead-off hitter in 2012. Perez, who ranked second on the team with five homeruns, also led the Hurricanes with 18 steals on the basepaths. He ranked first on the team with four triples and finished second with 12 doubles. Like Encinosa, Perez has one year of eligibility remaining as a Hurricane.
As many players contemplate the next move in their playing careers, O'Brien shared thoughts on his lone season as a Miami Hurricane.
"I wouldn't change it for the world," O'Brien said. "Even though I wasn't fortunate enough to play the entire season, my teammates, coaches and staff at Miami helped me throughout the whole way. I can't thank them enough for putting me in this position."
Major League Baseball's 2012 First-Year Player Draft will resume with full coverage on MLB Network on Wednesday at noon. Follow along for updates from the podium on Twitter (@CanesBaseball) and the team's official blog, TheUBaseball.com.