Steele Embracing Narrowed Role at Mizzou

By Matt Tritten |

Published 04/24 2014 05:59PM

Updated 04/24 2014 09:45PM

(COLUMBIA, Mo.) In his first season at Missouri, Keaton Steele did a little bit of everything. The first baseman/designated hitter/pitcher led the Tigers with five home runs, .425 slugging-percentage, five wins and two saves.

But Steele's role has been more focused as a junior at Mizzou.

"It's still a little foreign to me I guess at times. I'm sitting in here when the game's on the line and I'm not up their hitting."

The St. Joseph native's posted a 3.03 ERA and nine saves -- good for second most in the SEC -- in 38 2/3 innings, and only has 33 at-bats this season.

"He's as good a closer as I've ever had," Tiger head coach Tim Jamieson said.

Steele was an All-SEC utility player in 2013, but will make it at the next level on the mound. He was selected as a pitcher by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 29th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball draft, and again by the Kansas City Royals in the 40th round last year. Despite the drop off on draft day, it hasn't affected his attitude on the diamond or in the classroom.

"I'm happy to be here," Steele said of Missouri. "I'm still going to school. I get to graduate in May; it's probably something that I wouldn't have been doing if I did take it. So I'm happy where I'm at."

Jamieson's sent five pitchers to the majors since 2006, including Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and Aaron Crow. He believes Steele has the makeup to follow in their footsteps.

"He's a guy that just keeps getting better, and he's one of the best in the SEC," Jamieson said. "There's no question about it."

Down to 13 regular season games left in 2014, Steele's not thinking about another draft coming in June. He's keeping his mind on the Tigers, and their upcoming SEC opponents.

"I'm just taking it day by day. My focus is here in Columbia and nowhere else."

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