Edinburg North and Louisiana State University (LSU) alum Saul Garza is headed to the big leagues after he announced his signing with the Kansas City Royals organization Sunday evening.

Garza, a 2017 graduate of Edinburg North who frequently played behind the plate for the Cougars and at LSU, joins the Royals organization as an undrafted free agent after the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft was limited to just five rounds, compared to the usual 40, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hitter of the year, Saul Garza, Edinburg North, poses at McAllen High School June 12, 2017 in McAllen. Photo by Joel Martinez/jmartinez@themonitor.com

One of the rules the MLB implemented to this year’s altered draft was teams could not contact undrafted players until three days after the conclusion of the draft. At 9 a.m. Sunday, those three days were up and a few teams came calling for Garza.

But his connection with the Royals, who initially drafted Garza in the 32nd round of last year’s MLB Draft, was one he wanted to pursue, so that’s who he chose to sign with.

“I’d like to thank God for allowing me to play the game I love. I’m also very grateful for my family always supporting me and being my biggest fans,” Garza wrote in a statement. “To my former teammates, I love you guys and I’ll cherish our memories together forever. To my former coaches, thank you for always pushing me and being such great role models on and off the field. Finally, to Louisiana State University, and the best fans in the country, you will always have a special place in my heart. Forever LSU. With that being said, I’m excited to begin my professional baseball career in the Kansas City Royals organization.”

Garza was initially drafted out of high school in the 31st round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Instead, Garza chose to carve a path at the college level as he spent one year at Howard Junior College before receiving an offer to attend LSU. In his one year at Howard, Garza batted .378 with 52 hits, 23 home runs and was named to the NJCAA Division I All-Region Team.

Garza burst onto the scene during his sophomore season after transferring to LSU in 2018-19 as he started 42 games and played in 50 for the Tigers. He averaged .303 at the plate with 10 doubles, five home runs, 27 RBIs and 20 runs. Garza was also voted the Co-Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, named to the 2019 SEC All-Tournament Team, 2019 NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team, 2019 First-Team All-Louisiana, and the 2019 NCAA First-Year Academic Honor Roll.

After the 2019 season, Garza was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 32nd round, but he chose to return to LSU for his junior year.

Before his 2020 was cut short due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Garza was leading the Tigers in home runs with three and tied for the team lead with 12 RBIs in just 14 games.

Now, Garza is bound to join the Kansas City Royals organization to begin his professional baseball career.

“Dream come true, can’t wait! The journey begins. #AlwaysRoyal,” Garza tweeted Sunday evening.

bramos@themonitor.com