Six NC State Wolfpack baseball players heard their names called on the final day of the 2019 MLB Draft, including five pitchers and a reserve outfielder. They were:
- JR RHP Jason Parker - 16th Round, 474th overall pick, Cincinnati Reds
- JR RHP Alec Barger - 17th Round, 517th overall pick, Atlanta Braves
- JR RHP Andrew Blake - 21st Round, 631st overall pick, Los Angeles Angels
- JR RHP Michael Bienlien - 24th Round, 712th overall pick, Detroit Tigers
- RS-FR OF Thayer Thomas - 33rd Round, 1007th overall pick, Boston Red Sox
- SO LHP Evan Justice - 39th Round, 1161st overall pick, Miami Marlins
The obvious surprise among the list above is Thayer Thomas, for three reasons:
- He’s a redshirt freshman
- Nobody really even knew he was going to play baseball until right before the season started
- He only had 24 plate appearances on the season.
One of those is easily answered. The rules governing draft eligibility state that you must be either three years removed from high school or have turned 21 by the beginning of the draft. Thomas turned 21 on May 20th. As for the being drafted portion, the Red Sox must have seen something in Thomas’ limited playing time that they really liked... either that or someone in the Boston front office is a fan of another ACC team and is trying to diminish the Wolfpack football team’s receiving corps for the coming fall... you green monster bastards!
For the year, Thomas slashed .222/.364/.500 with 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, and 6 K.
Among the pitchers drafted, Parker was the lone member of the starting rotation, although Barger made a number of midweek starts and Blake and Bienlien also made a pair of starts each. Justice pitched purely in a relief role this season. Their numbers on the year:
- Parker: 4-4, 4.38 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, .269 OBA over 76.0 IP with 70 K
- Barger: 2-2, 6.14 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, .341 OBA over 29.1 IP with 35 K
- Blake: 1-0, 4.79 ERA, 1.79 WHIP, .302 OBA over 20.2 IP with 26 K
- Bienlien: 3-1, 6.23 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, .279 OBA over 21.2 IP with 27 K
- Justice: 4-0, 4.66 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, .221 OBA over 36.2 IP with 36 K
It’s safe to assume that the four junior right-handed pitchers will be signing contracts with the teams that drafted them and forgoing their final season(s) of eligibility. Given the current MLB rules and structure in place for signing draft picks, there’s no leverage for seniors when it comes to negotiating signing bonuses and they always get shafted. If you want the decent money (each of them could command somewhere in the $125k range), you go now.
In the case of Thomas and Justice, they both should be back next year. Thomas because he still has football and two more years of baseball bonus-negotiating eligibility left, and Justice because - given his talent - he can surely turn that 39th round pick and a solid junior campaign into a Top 10 round draft slot next year and a sizeable increase in cash.
The six listed above bring the total number of NC State players selected in this year’s draft to eight - Will Wilson was selected 15th overall and Evan Edwards was a 4th round pick. Those eight selections are tied with the 2006 and 2017 squads for the second most in a single season in school history; the 2008 team had nine players drafted.
In addition to the current Wolfpack players selected, a pair of former players who previously transferred out of the program were also drafted:
- SR RHP Evan Brabrand - Liberty - 9th Round, 261st overall pick, Miami Marlins
- JR OF E.P. Reese - Winston-Salem State - 25th Round, 766th overall pick, Houston Astros
Among incoming signees, three would-be future members of the Pack9 were drafted:
- LHP Blake Walston - 1st Round, 26th overall pick, Arizona Diamondbacks
- OF Noah Soles - 19th Round, 572nd overall pick, Arizona Diamondbacks
- SS Jose Torres - 24th Round, 733rd overall pick, Miami Marlins
What the hell you tryin’ to do, Arizona?! I’ll throw hands, man... I ain’t scared!