Ackley, Tate latest in long line of area draftees
Posted August 17, 2009
Dustin Ackley and Donovan Tate continue a long history of area players selected early in the Major League Baseball Draft.
The first top-five pick from the area came way back in 1970, when the Montreal Expos made catcher Barry Foote the number three pick overall out of Smithfield. Foote went on to a solid decade-long career with four different teams.
It took a while before the next early pick, Milwaukee selected UNC catcher BJ Surhoff #1 overall in 1985. Surhoff played for nearly two decades in The Show, collecting more than two-thousand base hits and earning his way into the Baltimore Orioles' Hall of Fame.
Six years later, the Yankees made Beaufort’s Brien Taylor the top pick overall, but a freak injury kept him from ever reaching the majors. Taylor hurt his shoulder defending his brother in a fight, and it cost him his shot at the big leagues.
A year later, the Indians snagged Raleigh’s Paul Shuey out of Carolina with the second pick of the draft. Shuey spent more than a decade in the majors.
And in 1993, Wilmington's Trot Nixon leveraged football against baseball – much like Donovan Tate. Nixon worked out at quarterback with NC State before signing with Boston, where he went on to win a world series ring
Athens Drive product Josh Hamilton collected a $3.96 Million signing bonus from Tampa as the top pick of the 1999 draft. Substance abused nearly derailed his career before Hamilton made a dramatic comeback with the Reds and Rangers.
And NC State recruited Justin Upton out of high school, but the lure of being the #1 pick of the 2005 Draft kept him out of college. Upton made his major league debut with the Diamondbacks at the age of 19.
Going back to Surhoff's draft in 1985, that's four #1 overall picks with area ties and two more players that went second overall in their respective drafts. That's quite a track record for any area.