The endless descent into Dante’s inferno reached the next circle of hell for the Pack 9 tonight as they dropped a midweek game to Campbell, bringing their overall record to 21-18. This season has basically been the baseball equivalent of the Red Wedding scene from "Game of Thrones". Though a trip to the postseason is likely out of reach, there is still something to be excited about. The MLB Draft! Losing players is never a good thing, but in this case this moment should be seen as a chance to celebrate the careers of Carlos Rodon, Trea Turner, and Brett Austin as we look forward to watching them represent NC State at the professional level. I thought I'd take a look at each guy's draft stock as we approach about a month and a half from draft night.
At this time last year it seemed like a lock that Carlos Rodon would be the first pick in the 2014 draft. Though he has pitched well this season, it is no longer a sure thing. The emergence of ECU right-handed pitcher Jeff Hoffman and high school pitchers Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek have given Rodon some competition for the top spot. Vanderbilt right-handed pitcher Tyler Beede, who you might remember from the 2012 NCAA Regional, has also been mentioned as a possible top 5 pick.
More than likely, Rodon will still be taken in the top 2 picks, and it seems extremely unlikely that he would fall any farther than 4th to the Chicago Cubs. Even if he isn’t the consensus number one pick there is still a high chance the Astros take him with that pick. He features the best track record of any pitcher in the draft, and a bad season by his team does not change that.
Industry opinion on Trea Turner has been varied throughout his NC State career. Coming into the season the debate was on whether or not he would able to stay at shortstop. Turner’s defense has been very good this season, as he has showcased improved range, hands, and arm strength. Evaluators have praised his speed and base running instincts in the past, but, since his ankle injury last season, his stolen base numbers have been down. If he regains his elite speed in the pros then he increases his value tremendously.
I asked Baseball America editor John Manuel on Twitter last week where the industry consensus was on Turner at the moment. He said that he still expects Turner to be taken within the first ten picks. Rumors around baseball suggest that the Chicago White Sox scouting department loves Turner and might take him with the 3rd overall pick. That seems like a stretch given the number of talented arms at the top of the draft. I find it hard to believe the first four picks will be anyone other than Rodon, Hoffman, Aiken, and Kolek.
Brett Austin’s stock is harder to read. Most projections I’ve seen don’t have him going in the first round, but common sense would lead me to believe he has improved his stock by having his best offensive season during his time at NC State. There has always been a question about whether or not he can play catcher at the next level, but if he can’t he is still athletic enough to play either corner outfield position. Other possible Pack 9 draftees include Jake Fincher, Logan Jernigan, Andrew Woeck, DJ Thomas, and the Peterson twins. No matter where these guys get drafted it will be fun to follow them as they embark on their professional careers. Hopefully in a few years we have several former Wolfpackers to root for in the big leagues.