From Elon to East Carolina, the state is loaded
MLB's 2019 draft begins on June 3. With all the great baseball played right here in North Carolina, I decided to highlight some of the guys from the state who will hear their name called by a major league team. Plenty of those players hail from the Atlantic Coast Conference, but Iet’s start with some who attend schools that aren't as high-profile.
One of the best kept secrets in college baseball is the program that head coach Mike Kennedy has built at Elon University. This year, his Phoenix won 33 games and advanced all the way to the championship game of the Colonial Athletic Association Conference tournament before falling to UNCW.
It is not uncommon for the school to produce pro baseball players. This year however, they've got four advanced prospects that I'd expect to be drafted. George Kirby, a righthander who stands at 6’4,” is ranked as No. 20 in Baseball America, which makes him a good bet for the first round. Kyle Brnovich is a righthanded junior who comes highly regarded and projects as a 3rd or 4th rounder. Junior Ty Adcock is a catcher who hit 12 homeruns. He also happens to be the team's closer and has touched 98 miles an hour on the fastball. That premium velocity has caused him to skyrocket up MLB draftboards as someone who will probably go in the 5th or 6th round.
Campbell University has another of the quality, yet lesser known baseball programs in NC. Having won 35 regular season games and the title of Big South Champions, they've got two players that I'll have my eye on next week.
The first is a junior right-handed pitcher named Seth Johnson. Baseball America has him ranked as the No. 29 prospect in all of amateur baseball. Though, as a former infielder who just converted to pitching this season, I expect there will be a fair number of questions. Matthew Barefoot is an outfielder who led the team in homeruns and RBI's. Despite questions about his lack of standout tools he has hit .335, .364, and .313 respectively in his three seasons on the field. He should hear his name called in the 7th-12th rounds.
East Carolina won 43 games on the way to securing the rights to host a regional in Greenville. Bryant Packard is the highest rated Pirate. A junior outfielder who was First Team All-American last season, Packard has hit in all three of his seasons at ECU as well as last summer in the Cape Cod League. He should go somewhere in range of rounds 3-5.
Spencer Brickhouse is a power-hitting prospect who has a somewhat similar profile to Packard. Neither is a great defender, especially Brickhouse, which is why he will probably get selected a round or two behind his teammate. Jake Agnos was East Carolina's best starter and someone to keep an eye on in the NCAA Tournament. The left-handed pitcher is expected to be picked in the 4th or 5th round. Righthander Trey Benton entered the season highly rated, but fell victim to injury. Some team will take a chance on him as he boasts a power arm when healthy.
NC State finished 42-17 overall and 2nd in the Atlantic Division of the ACC. They were led by shortstop Will Wilson. He is currently rated as the 23rd best prospect by Baseball America. He may ultimately have to switch positions, but scouts like him as an above average hitter with still developing power. Evan Edwards is a first baseman who can also hit, reaching double-digits in homers in both of his years with the Wolfpack. He projects to be drafted in the 8th-10th rounds.
UNC also won over 40 games this year and is a baseball factory that churns out pro players. This year, they've got four different pitchers who appear to be on the scouts’ radar. Tyler Baum, Austin Bergner, Joey Lancelloti and Gianluca Dalatri all earn high draft grades.
Baum should be the first one of the pitchers off the board as a 2nd or 3rd rounder. The most highly regarded Tar Heel, however, is OF/1B Michael Busch. He is a first-rounder who is considered to be one of the best college bats available. Shortstop Ike Freeman is also noteworthy as both a hitter and fielder.
The Duke Blue Devils didn't enjoy the same success as in the ACC as counterparts UNC and NC State, finishing 31-25. They do however boast a duo of lefthanded pitchers that are both on the prospect map. Graeme Stinson began the 2019 as perhaps the top-ranked pitcher in college. While he disappointed this season, he is still projected as a 2nd or 3rd rounder.
Wake Forest has two notable players worth keeping an eye on, righthanded pitchers Morgan McSweeney and Colin Peluse. McSweeney is the better of the two, with a more projectable frame and better college performance.
One of the better prospects from our state plays his college ball at UNCW. Greg Jones is a shortstop for the Seahawks who just may be one of the best athletes in all of college baseball. A speedster who also has great defensive range and developing power, Jones is a 2nd or 3rd rounder.