Turner, Rodon two of many draft hopefuls across NC
Posted June 4
Updated June 5
Raleigh, N.C. — For approximately 1,500 amateur baseball players across the country, this weekend will be a dream-come-true as they will be drafted by a Major League Baseball team.
North Carolina has some of this year’s top prospects according to Baseball America, with three area college players potentially going in the first round on Thursday in the MLB first-year player draft.
The North Carolina State duo of Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner are nearly guaranteed to go in round one. East Carolina’s Jeff Hoffman will have to wait and see if teams are willing to gamble on his future as he is recovering from Tommy John surgery on May 14.
Rodon, a Holly Springs native, is considered a lock to go in the top five picks despite a rocky junior season for the Wolfpack. Coming off a stellar sophomore year in which he, along with Turner, led NC State to the College World Series, Rodon went just 6-7 this year despite posting 2.01 ERA.
Featuring a mid-90s fastball and a slider that is considered by many scouts as the best in the class, Rodon was been named the 2012 National Freshman Pitcher of the Year, a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award given to the top amateur baseball player, the 2013 USA Baseball Player of the Year and a three-time All-America selection.
During his sophomore season, Rodon set the NC State single-season strikeout record with 184 and during his junior campaign, set the school record for career strikeouts with 436.
Rodon’s biggest challenger for the No. 1 overall spot is San Diego high school pitcher Brady Aiken.
If the Houston Astros, owner of the top pick, decide to go with Aiken, the Miami Marlins could take the lefty at No. 2 to form a one-two punch along with phenom Jose Fernandez.
The Chicago White Sox have also shown a great deal of interest in Rodon with the third pick and it is widely expected if he is to fall, the South-siders will make Rodon’s new home the Windy City.
The Milwaukee Brewers took Rodon in the 16th round of the 2011 draft.
Rodon’s teammate Turner also has the potential to be a top-10 pick. The shortstop was considered to be a top-five pick before the season, but an up-and-down junior campaign caused him to slide down draft boards.
Turner batted .321 for the Wolfpack this season, but was hobbled by a slight ankle injury throughout the year.
Turner holds the NC State single-season and career stolen base records with 57 and 113, respectively.
Turner is also a three-time All-America, making him and Rodon the first set of NC State teammates selected to three teams.
Viewed as one of the fastest players in the draft class, Turner can also use his glove to land a spot at the top of the draft. Converted to shortstop at the beginning of his sophomore year, Turner has shown great improvement during the past two seasons.
The teams most linked to Turner are the Toronto Blue Jays, who hold the ninth and 11th picks and the New York Mets who have the 10th pick.
Turner was selected in the 20th round of the 2011 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but turned down the chance to sign to play for the Wolfpack.
East Carolina’s Hoffman is the third North Carolina player to be considered a potential first-round pick.
Despite his high ranking as a prospect, there are big questions about Hoffman’s future after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May.
Hoffman’s draft stock was sky-high coming out of last summer when he pitched in the Cape Cod League. After posting 33 strikeouts to just five walks in 24.1 innings in 2013, Hoffman was rated as the second overall prospect heading into the 2014 draft.
Though the surgery reportedly went well, it is expected the right-hander will not be a top-10 lock as originally expected, but many feel he will almost certainly remain a top-20 selection.
Prior to the injury, Hoffman’s fastball consistently hit the mid-to-high 90s and he featured a dangerous curveball that sat at around 80 MPH. Hoffman’s change-up is not as good as his curveball, but his command of that pitch is much better.
If Hoffman is picked in the top-20, he will become the highest draft pick in East Carolina history in any sport, surpassing Theodore Edwards, who was selected 21st overall in the 1989 NBA draft. Pat Watkins is the highest baseball draft pick, selected 32nd overall in 1993 by the Cincinnati Reds.
After Round 1, there is still a host of other college and high school prospects from the state that are expected to be selected in the 40-round, three-day draft.
NC State catcher Brett Austin, selected 54th overall in 2011, aims to be drafted that high once again. The junior catcher is seen as very strong defensively with a good bat with good overall potential.
A 2014 second-team All-ACC selection, UNC shortstop Michael Russell might not be considered the best shortstop in the class, but has good range and a very strong arm. The thing that will get him noticed is his bat, as he led UNC with a .339 average this season and features some power. A back injury and a pitch to the face slowed him down towards the end of the season.
Braxton Davidson, a first baseman from Asheville’s T C Roberson High School is considered a high second round prospect. Standing at 6-foot-3,he was a Perfect Game First Team All-America selection. With a powerful bat, Davidson has the potential to be a strong hitter in the future. If he decides to turn down the professional ranks, Davidson will attend UNC-Chapel Hill.
Ryder Ryan, a right-handed pitcher from Huntersville, is seen as a top-five round talent with a fastball that runs in the low-90s. Ryan also batted .571 as a senior at North Mecklenburg HS with six home runs and 27 RBIs. If Ryan decides to attend college, he will also play at UNC.
North Buncombe High School product, left-hander Alex Destino, projects as a top-10 round selection. Scouts compare him as a Paul Maholm-type of pitcher.
Charlotte 49ers right-hander Ryan Butler could provide good value for a team in the top 15 rounds after being a 16th round selection of the New York Yankees in 2013. A big, strong pitcher with good mechanics, Butler has been used as a weekend starter by Charlotte but could translate well to a reliable bullpen arm.
UNC-Greensboro right-hander and Green Hope High School graduate Max Povse has a good chance to improve his draft position from 2011 when he was picked in the 42nd round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Improved mechanics and good velocity should easily make him a top 15 round selection.
UNC right-hander Benton Moss could be a middle-round pick. With three good pitches, Moss has been compared to Tim Hudson.
UNC-Wilmington right hander Jordan Ramsey was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 28th round of the 2011 draft, and will almost certainly improve that standing this weekend. A rough start to the season might encourage the junior to return to school for another year if he is not drafted as high as he likes.
A fourth NC State player likely to get his name called is right-hander Logan Jernigan. The Wolfpack’s second starter this year, he has a strong delivery and a good build for a team to take in the middle rounds of the draft.
A native of Hendersonville, outfielder Storm Edwards has good outfield range with an average arm. The NC State commit also has a solid bat with power potential and could go in the middle rounds.
Duke left-hander Andrew Van Orden has the potential to be a solid relief pitcher for some team. Sloppy mechanics and low velocity could cause the Blue Devils ace to slide down draft boards, but good command will force a team to pick in the middle to late part of the draft.
Also projected middle-to-late round prospects are Western Carolina right-hander Jeremy Null, who was a 37th round selection in 2011 by the Seattle Mariners, and UNC-Pembroke infielder Jordan Edgerton.
Fuquay-Varina shortstop DJ Burt has the potential to be late-round selection. Burt verbally committed to the University of South Carolina after his freshman season, but after the Gamecocks withdrew their offer, Burt decided to go the junior college route and committed to Marianna (Fla.) Chipola Junior College.
The MLB Draft gets underway Thursday at 7 p.m. with rounds 1-2. Rounds 3-10 will start at 1 p.m. Friday and the draft will conclude Saturday with the final 30 rounds starting at 1 p.m.