Tech baseball sends 7 players to the majors

Photo courtesy of Taylor Gray, Student Publications

The Jackets have a historied success when it comes to the Major League Baseball draft process with notable names such as Jason Varitek, Mark Teixeira and most recently Joey Bart making it into the big leagues. The total number of players drafted while at Tech as of July 2018 is listed at 169 on, while ten of those players were drafted out of Tech in the first round. Furthermore, the Jackets have a tendency to sign players who were high school draftees who chose to attend Tech over going straight into the MLB, bolstering the prestige of the program and trumpeting the recruiting abilities of head coach Danny Hall.

The 2019 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft was arguably less exciting than that of 2018, in which Joey Bart was picked second overall and went out of Tech with a bang. However, the Jackets had a total of seven players selected for the opportunity to pursue professional baseball this year compared to only two players during last year’s draft.

Tristin English, a redshirt junior, was picked up first out of the Tech squad during the third round. At pick 93, English was chosen by the Arizona Diamondbacks after having a phenomenal postseason. The pitcher made waves on All-American, All-ACC, and similar listings throughout his time at Tech. He was only the third Tech player to be named to the All-ACC First Team roster three times, alongside former stars Jason Varitek and Eric Patterson. During the 2019 season, English was the first player at Tech since 2001 to hit for the cycle, which requires a batter to hit a single, double, triple and a home run all in the same game. He has quite the pitching prowess as exemplified by two hitless innings leading up to the ACC Championship Game, along with a team-leading 71 RBI and a .313 batting average this past year. 

The next pick from the Jackets was Kyle McCann who was selected as pick 134 during the fourth round by Oakland Athletics. During the 2019 season, McCann recorded the second highest number of home runs in the Atlantic Coast Conference at a total of 23. Although McCann was only named to the All-ACC Third Team during his 2018 season, his most recent season was full of accomplishments that blew that listing out of the water. The catcher was named as a finalist for the Buster Posey Catcher of the Year award and broke Mark Teixeira’s single-season Tech record for most intentional walks, according to McCann will join former Tech catcher Joey Bart in the Bay Area in a reunion that is sure to be nostalgic for the two Tech catchers. 

Junior pitcher Connor Thomas was drafted next during the fifth round at pick 155 by the St. Louis Cardinals. He had 103 strikeouts during the 2019 season which ranked him fourth in the ACC. With a variety of accolades under his belt, such as ACC Pitcher of the Week and All-ACC First Team, Thomas was a definite help to the Jackets during their grind through the
championship season.

Atlanta native Xzavion Curry was selected by the Cleveland Indians in round seven as pick 220. His season ended early due to a shoulder injury, but he was the expected starter going into the 2019 season and opened with a record setting number of wins in three straight Opening Day appearances for the Jackets. Curry joins Thomas with multiple ACC Pitcher of the Week awards. The Indians picked a good one in Curry, assuming his shoulder heals and he is able to reach his
maximum potential. 

After the top ten rounds were hashed out, three Tech players were selected in the following days. Chase Murray, a junior outfielder who battled injuries throughout his time at Tech, was drafted in round 13 by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Junior pitcher Amos Willingham was picked up by the Washington Nationals in round 17, while sophomore infielder Luke Waddell was selected during round 32 by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Both Willingham and Waddell could show some serious improvement over the next year or two, as Willingham transferred from a community college this past year and Waddell still has time to mature as a player for Tech. 

Depending on how the players like their respective teams, Tech fans can expect to see significant turnover across the starting lineup next year. Led by Hall, the Jackets have depth that should continue to lead them to postseason appearances that hopefully turn out better than their departure from the NCAA tournament this year.