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Baseball: UL’s Conrad signs deal with Tampa Bay Rays

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, June 12, 2014


UL second baseman Jace Conrad is headed to the New York Penn League.(Photo: Leslie Westbrook/The Advertiser)

When UL second baseman Jace Conrad was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 13th round Saturday, he was still a little too preoccupied with his quest to push the Ragin’ Cajuns to Omaha for the College World Series to fully relish it.

Now that UL’s run ended one game short of its ultimate goal, Conrad has been able to transfer his focus to his future.

That process began Wednesday when the former Lafayette High All-State shortstop signed a professional contract with the Rays’ organization.

Conrad joins Cajun junior teammates Austin Robichaux and Caleb Adams in officially leaving their college careers for pro ball.

"We all kind of got what we wanted," said Conrad, who said the Rays will start him out at second base. "It’s something we’ve all been working hard for over the last 15 or 16 years, this opportunity and getting to Omaha. We didn’t quite make it to Omaha, so now it’s time (to begin life in pro ball). The coaches understand that."

Conrad will report to Tampa Bay’s short-season Class 1A club – the Hudson Valley Renegades – in Fishkill, N.Y. on Monday.

Conrad will be joining a franchise that also include former Lafayette standout Mikie Mahtook of St. Thomas More, who is now in Triple-A.

"Our families are good friends," Conrad said. "Mikie texted me about 20 minutes after I got drafted. I’m going to keep in touch with him. If I need anything, he’s who I’m going to call."

Conrad said he also contacted former Cajun Jordan Harrison to get pointers on what to expect once the minor league life begins.

"I’m not worried about what I need to work on," Conrad said. "I’m going to go up there and grind, just like I did throughout my college career. I’m just worried about getting used to being away from home. I’m definitely a hometown guy."

Conrad said the local Rays’ scout that signed him has been following his career since he was a freshman at Lafayette High. This past season, he saw Conrad hit .364 with 20 doubles, three triples, nine homers, 65 RBIs and 22 stolen bases, while making just three errors defensively.