Three rounds after teammate Josh Hood was selected in the 2022 MLB Draft, NC State LHP Chris Villaman heard his name called:
With the 284th pick, @RaysBaseball selects @NCStateBaseball left-handed pitcher Chris Villaman, No. 219 on the Top 250 Draft Prospects list.— MLB Draft (@MLBDraft) July 18, 2022
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During his third year (second full season) with the Wolfpack, Villaman stepped into the closer role for State, filling the void made by the departure of Evan Justice, a 2021 5th round MLB Draft pick. On the year, Villaman posted a 3-3 record with 11 saves and a 3.40 ERA over 55.2 IP, allowing 44 H and 14 BB, while registering 85 K and holding opponents to a .210 batting average.
Here is what MLB.com had to say about Villaman:
A swingman on a North Carolina State club that finished third at the 2021 College World Series, Villaman provided three innings of clutch relief in the super-regional finale against Arkansas to help send the Wolfpack to Omaha. He pitched for the U.S. collegiate national team last summer and has operated exclusively out of the bullpen this spring. He increased his Draft stock with a strong performance at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, including five shutout innings with eight strikeouts against North Carolina in a championship-game loss. Villaman relies heavily on a 90-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95, using it more than 80 percent of the time overall and more than 90 percent against left-handers, and it plays better than its velocity. He can command it all over the strike zone, with good carry at the top and nice downhill angle at the knees. He keeps right-handers off his heater by mixing in an improved low-80s changeup with fade and sink. Villaman has a strong 6-foot-2 frame and pounds the strike zone, and some scouts wonder whether he could succeed as a starter in pro ball. The biggest question is his lack of feel for spinning the ball and he doesn’t show much faith in a flat, slow slider in the upper 70s. It’s more likely that he’ll remain in a multi-inning relief role at the next level.
Unlike Hood, Villaman still has two years of eligibility remaining with NC State, should he choose, thus meaning he still has another year of draft-bonus negotiating leverage. As you can read in the above profile, there’s no question about Villaman’s floor as a multi-inning reliever, but he could stand to improve his draft prospects significantly were he to return to Raleigh for the 2023 season and successfully operate as a weekend rotation starter.
Regardless of whether he turns pro or returns to State, congratulations to Chris on a great accomplishment!