Three more Tar Heels drafted

ECU, NCSU, Duke in the mix

Staff WriterJune 11, 2009 

  • It could happen one year. Dustin Ackley could come to bat for the Seattle Mariners and find Alex White on the mound for the Cleveland Indians.

    And then?

    "I don't know. That would be tough," Ackley said Wednesday, flashing a smile. "I hope I don't have to be in that situation. But if it does, I hope the best man wins. Whoever that is."

    The Mariners made Ackley the No. 2 overall pick Tuesday in the Major League Baseball draft. North Carolina's junior first baseman is hitting .412 this season.

    White was taken 15th overall by the Indians. The Tar Heels' right-hander has a nasty fastball and could be used as a closer by Cleveland.

    While neither is assured of making it to the big leagues, White is hoping they do go head-to-head one day.

    "That would be fun. I'd love to do that," he said. "If I'm facing him in the major leagues, then obviously we've done something right to get there.

    "We both want to get there. He's a great player, and I wouldn't be surprised if he gets there first."

North Carolina baseball coach Mike Fox said he's thrilled for all the Tar Heels players selected in the first two days of the Major League Baseball draft.

The problem is, all the good news has interrupted his team's practice schedule a bit for its trip to the College World Series.

"We're trying to practice today and watch the draft at the same time; what does that say?" Fox said with a laugh Wednesday. "I probably should have just scheduled it for 10 p.m. tonight."

After three UNC players were drafted in Tuesday's first three rounds, three more Tar Heels heard their names called by Wednesday afternoon, including catcher Mark Fleury and pitcher Adam Warren, both taken in the fourth round.

Fleury had just arrived at North Carolina's Wednesday batting practice, and his teammates rushed him at the door, yelling, "You just got drafted!"

"I was like, 'Yeah, right, very funny, guys,' " Fleury said. "Then they were like, 'No, really.' "

Sure enough, the Cincinnati Reds had picked Fleury in the fourth round.

Soon after Fleury received his good news, junior relief pitcher Brian Moran was interrupted in the bullpen by pitching coach Scott Forbes, who sprinted to the mound with Moran's cell phone. The Reds were planning on drafting him with their pick in the eighth round and asked him if he would sign.

But as he was on the phone with the Reds, his teammates ran out to meet him, yelling that he had been drafted in the seventh round by the Seattle Mariners, joining second overall pick Dustin Ackley and third-round selection Kyle Seager in the organization.

The previous night, Seager headed home to Kannapolis to watch the draft with a group of family and friends.

"I'm really excited about it," he said. "I was kind of getting a little antsy. ... You're just sitting there, you see people falling, getting taken, you're just kind of waiting. I was excited to finally get off the board."

Warren, selected by the New York Yankees organization, was a 36th-round selection last year as a junior but decided to return to UNC. After a stellar senior season that boosted his stock, he'll leave a fourth-round pick.

"I'm going to have to use that story with some of my juniors in the future," Fox said.

N.C. State left-hander Jimmy Gilheeney (Mariners), Duke first baseman Nate Freiman (Padres) and East Carolina outfielder Devin Harris (Orioles) were selected in the eighth round.

East Carolina second baseman/pitcher Ryan Wood (11th round, Royals), pitcher Chris Heston (12th round, Giants) and first baseman Stephen Batts (19th round, Phillies) also were drafted on Wednesday. Wood, who made four appearances out of the Pirates' bullpen this season, was selected as a pitcher.

Freiman was joined in the draft by three Duke teammates -- pitcher Andrew Wolcott (17th round, Diamondbacks), catcher Matt Williams (18th round, Cubs) and outfielder/pitcher Alex Hassan (20th round, Red Sox).

N.C. State pitcher Sam Brown was drafted in the 22nd round by the Rangers.

Elon outfielder Cory Harrilchak, a former Cary High star, was picked in the 14th round by the Braves.

Wake Forest right-hander Phil Negus was selected in the 18th round by the White Sox.

Pitcher BJ Dail of Mount Olive was picked in the 17th round by the Cubs.

Several area high school players were selected on Wednesday as the draft went through the 30th round: third baseman Jon Wooten (20th round, Padres) and shortstop John Gourley (13th round, Pirates) of Eastern Wayne; and outfielder Brian Goodwin of Rocky Mount (17th round, White Sox).

But it was the Tar Heels who dominated the draft boards, with five current UNC players selected in the first four rounds and two recruits -- pitcher Jacob Turner and outfielder Donovan Tate, a football recruit who also would have played baseball for the Tar Heels -- selected in the overall top 10.

"It's very exciting for them. Obviously, it's a dream come true for every kid that's ever played to have a chance to play in the major leagues," Fox said. "So this is their chance, certainly, and it speaks well for those kids that have developed.

"We're tickled to death for them."

rachel.ullrich@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8925

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