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In one day, two Omaha Creighton Prep grads became MLB draft picks

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Dylan Phillips said it was "pure happiness" when he found out he was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the MLB draft.

Those around Omaha Creighton Prep felt the same way Monday, after two of its graduates were taken in back-to-back rounds.

Phillips was drafted in the eighth round (No. 238 overall) while Matt Keating was selected in the ninth, 42 picks later, by the New York Yankees.

"Seeing them both get drafted is a great reflection on everyone here at Creighton Prep," Junior Jays coach Pat Mooney said. "They're both great guys. It just shows that even if you have an ounce of talent that if you work hard enough, you can reach your goals."

Before a standout career at Kansas State, Mooney said Phillips was one of the best hitters in Prep history. For the Wildcats, he hit .333 with 16 home runs and 58 RBIs as a sophomore in 2021 before hitting .283 with 13 homers and 43 RBIs this spring. He finished as Kansas State's career home run leader with 44.

And while he pitched occasionally early in his college career, he became the team's closer this season. He finished with eight saves and held opponents to a .186 average in 20.1 innings.

"They did a great job of letting me be myself," Phillips said of Kansas State. "They had me work in the weight room to be more of a physical hitter."

The Angels drafted the left-hander as a two-way player, and he said in coming weeks he'll find out what their plan is for him. Of course, the team has another thriving two-way player in Shohei Ohtani, last year's American League MVP.

Keating was also a two-way star in junior college at Southeast Community College before becoming a reliever this spring at Southern California. 

"He's a workhorse. He worked his tail off at junior college and basically exploded on the scene," Mooney said.

Dion Parks, his coach at Southeast, agreed.

"He was a late bloomer and just exploded," Parks said. "The things that make him special are a few things — work ethic, he's one of the hardest workers we've had here; character, the way he was, the way he interacted with people; and just every day his willingness to come to the park or come to class looking to get better.

"That's the kind of kid he is, he's hungry to get better in any aspect of his life. It all clicked at the same time, and that was pretty special to watch."

After having his first year at Southeast halted by the pandemic, the right-hander was named an NJCAA first-team All-American in 2021. He hit .404 with 19 homers, 62 RBIs and 27 stolen bases while he had a 0.56 ERA in 16 innings.

Parks said initially Keating enrolled to just be a student at the University of Nebraska. But Parks urged Keating to give baseball a try in college.

"I'm glad he took one more shot, and I think he is, too," Parks said. "I thought he was going to be a really good player. He has an electric arm and he was hitting by his senior year (in high school)."

Following that breakout year for the Storm, Keating went to USC. He primarily was the team's closer with seven saves. In 24 appearances, he had 44 strikeouts and held opponents to a .212 batting average in 30 innings.

Now Keating gets the chance to pitch in the Yankee organization.

"Matt worked so hard for this opportunity," Phillips said.

Phillips is thankful for his opportunity, too.

"I'm excited to see how long I can play and if I can make a career out of it," he said.

World-Herald staff writer Mike Patterson contributed to this report.

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