With the calendar turning over to February and the 2021 baseball season quickly approaching, let’s take a look at the NC State Wolfpack team that will take the field this season.
- In Part I of this series, we’ll take a look back at the 2020 season and the players who are no longer with the program.
- Part II will be a look at the returnees from that 2020 team.
- Part III will look at the newcomers for 2021.
- Part IV will take a look at the schedule and opponents for the Wolfpack this season.
So let’s get started!
2020 Season Review
First, let’s take a look back at the 2020 season so we can give ourselves a little perspective on the season to come.
How did things go in 2020?
Really good, right up until the season got squashed.
The Pack started off 12-0 in 2020 before losing three of five before the season was cancelled. They did win the last game of the year, though, with J.T. Jarrett delivering a walk-off, two-run double to top NC A&T. Usually when you win the last game of the season, that means you’re hoisting some hardware... oh well.
The 12-0 start featured a sweep in the Cambria College Classic (ACC-B1G Challenge of sorts) in Minnesota and a lot of offense, capped off by an absolute smoking of Coastal Carolina by a football-like score of 24-7.
Unfortunately, the Wolfpack never made it past the opening weekend of ACC play so we’ll never know how the team - which ranked as high as #9 nationally - would have fared in what was shaping up to be another tough conference slate.
Who’s gone from the 2020 squad?
Aside from the remainder of the 2020 season that was but wasn’t, the sudden stop of last spring also robbed us all of the enjoyment of watching Patrick Bailey and Nick Swiney play together in the Red & White. Some may argue for the tandem of Brett Austin and Carlos Rodon, but I’ll definitively state that the Bailey-Swiney battery was the best in NC State history. A silver lining, of sorts, is that both were drafted by the Giants so we still may get to see them playing catch in the big leagues some day.
Bailey was selected with the 13th overall pick in the shortened 2020 MLB Draft. He was eventually added to the Giants’ 60-man player pool, but was not promoted to big leagues. He’ll likely start the year in A+ ball, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
In 2020, Bailey crushed pitches and banged b...aseballs. In 17 games, Bailey slashed .296/.466/.685 with 6 HR (including 3 grand slams), 20 R, 20 RBI, and 17 BB. He also stole a base because... I mean, why not? His strikeout rate was the highest of his three years in Raleigh, but he was also seeing fewer and fewer good pitches. As the true leader of the team, Bailey was a beast. For his career, he slashed .302/.411/.568 with 28 2B, 6 3B, 29 HR, 115 R, and 106 RBI over 131 games (126 starts).
As good as Bailey was behind the dish and at the plate, Swiney was even better on the mound in 2020. In four appearances - all starts - Swiney posted a combined line of 28.0 IP, 13 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, and a ridiculous 42 K. Carlos Rodon averaged 12.5 K/9 in a 2013 effort that saw him named USA Baseball Player of the Year. Swiney averaged 13.5 K/9 in 2020. In his start against Purdue, Swiney struck out 15 batters over 8 innings of 1-hit ball. For his efforts, Swiney was selected in the 2nd round of the 2020 MLB Draft by the Giants. He’s likely to start the season in A ball.
Swiney finished his career with an overall 15-1 record and 1 save in 50 appearances (8 starts). His career line: 115.1 IP, 78 H, 53 R, 45 ER, 55 BB, 174 K, and a .191 opponent batting average.
Needless to say, the loss of those two will be heavily felt, but they aren’t the only ones who have departed the Wolfpack program since the end of the 2020 season. Below is a list of others who have left Raleigh this offseason.
- Brad Debo - SR - C
- Lawson McArthur - SR - OF
- James Ferguson - rJR - LHP
- David Vazquez - JR - INF
- Marek Chlup - SO - OF
- Will Butcher - FR - INF
- Tim Cao - FR - RHP
- CJ Neese - FR - INF/RHP
Debo was a Freshman All-American in 2017 and started 131 games over his career. While he was never able to regain his freshman form thanks to a slew of injuries, he still finished his career with an overall .284/.366/.425 slash line with 39 2B, 9 HR, 69 R, and 96 RBI.
McArthur was a bit of a project who found some run later in his career, starting 23 games over his last two years. The speedy outfielder slashed only .183/.348/.298, but he did make his one career home run one to count: a grand slam in 2019 versus Bucknell to propel the Pack to victory.
Vazquez arrived in Raleigh with high expectations after having been selected in the 37th round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of high school. He struggled with consistency at the plate, but did make 48 starts for NC State in his career, with 40 of those coming in 2019. For his career he slashed .236/.352/.362 with 13 2B, 3 HR, 30 R, and 32 RBI. Vazquez has transferred to Barry University in his home state of Florida, a program that ranks #6 in the 2021 preseason Division II polls.
Chlup came to NC State from the Czech Republic along with Vojtech Mensik. He has a big frame with a lot of power, but never could quite crack the lineup for State, starting just 7 games over two years. He did slash .226/.375/.484 over his 34 career plate appearances, including notching 3 2B, 1 3B, and 1 HR. Chlup has transferred to Division II North Greenville University, where he will play for a Landon Powell coached team that opens the season ranked #4 in the country.
Neese appeared in two games as a true freshman in 2020, including starting at DH against Tennessee Tech. He has transferred to High Point.
Ferguson, Butcher, and Cao never saw the field for the Pack. Butcher has transferred to UNC-Charlotte.