Easley, Tzamtzis Getting Paid to Play Kids' Game

Rob Foldy-US PRESSWIRE

N.C. State will be rebuilding the bullpen in 2014.

Former N.C. State relievers Josh Easley and Anthony Tzamtzis, both of whom were selected by Florida clubs in the 2013 MLB June draft, have agreed to terms with their respective teams. Easley, who was also recently named to the ACC all-academic squad, has exhausted his eligibility and was thus a lock to come to terms. The talented but erratic Tzamtzis had a year of eligibility remaining but will turn 23 this year and was likely anxious to get his professional career underway after redshirting one season in college while recovering from ligament replacement surgery.

The third time was the charm for Easley, who missed all of 2012 due to his own ligament replacement surgery. The 6-3, 170-pound righty was drafted in the 49th round in 2009 by the Mets out of high school in Weatherford, TX. The Mets tried again the next season with a 35th round pick after Easley's first season at Weatherford College. The Miami Marlins selected Easley in the 23rd round after his senior season for the Wolfpack.

Easley enjoyed an impressive senior campaign, finishing second on the club with seven wins in 25 appearances. The 25 outings were the third most on the club. In addition to his impressive line (7-2, 1.38 ERA), Easley struck out nearly a batter per inning (42 Ks in 45 1/3 IP), posted a 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio, and recorded a save.

As the Greensboro Grasshoppers are a Marlins' affiliate, chances are good that Pack fans will be able to watch the 22-year-old Easley work, possibly as soon as this season.

Tampa Bay tabbed Tzamtzis, a Florida native, in the 32nd round. The 6-0, 185-pound righty was also selected out of high school in 2009 in the 43rd round by the Astros. After serving as one of the Pack's starters as a sophomore, Tzamtzis fell out of favor last season due to his epic command struggles and ended up buried at the back of the team's deep bullpen.

Tzamtzis went 5-5 with a respectable 4.38 ERA in 2012 while fanning a batter an inning and holding opponents to a .213 batting average. He combined for 60 walks, wild pitches, and hit batters in 63 1/3 innings but missed enough bats to usually wiggle out of the messes he made for himself. That wasn't the case in 2013, when he combined for a mind boggling 45 walks, wild pitches, and hit batters in just 28 1/3 innings while his K rate decreased and opponents' batting average rose. The result was a 5.40 ERA and very irregular work.

Tzamtzis probably had the best fastball on the team of anyone not named Rodon, and his secondary pitches are nasty when commanded. Perhaps if he gets regular work in the professional ranks he will learn to repeat his release point and harness his arsenal.

N.C. State will have a lot of holes in the pen next season with the departure not only of Easley and Tzamtzis, but also Chris Overman, Grant Sasser, and Ryan Wilkins (who has signed with Sioux City of the independent American Association), a senior trio that combined for 10 wins and 16 saves in 78 appearances in 2013. Promising lefty Travis Orwig is also likely to redshirt after having his season cut short due to ligament replacement surgery.

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