Two Triangle-area high school pitchers each heard their name called in the Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday, but Clayton's Jason Creasy and Holly Springs' Carlos Rodon were each surprised about when they were selected.
Creasy was taken earlier than originally thought as the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him with the first pick in the 8th round (242nd overall).
The 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher was 7-1 as a senior for Clayton High this season with a 1.43 ERA. He struck out 68 batters in 49 innings of work with a WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) of 1.02.
"I knew I was going to get drafted but I didn't think it would be that high," Creasy said. "I thought it could be the 15th round or so, but not the eighth.
"I knew the Pirates liked me, they had some interest but it didn't seem like they liked me that much."
Rodon, a lefty who was named MVP of the 4-A state championship series last week, was taken much later than projected, falling to the Milwaukee Brewers in the 16th round (491st overall).
One of the major reasons Rodon, who was projected by most outlets as being a top-five-round selection, fell hundreds of picks later was what baseball pundits call "signability." Rodon and his parents value the college experience and education, and MLB teams knew it would take a signing bonus in the range of supplemental round's slotted range (about $750-800,000) to sign him away from his commitment to play at N.C. State next year.
The Brewers called Rodon in the fourth round to ask if he would sign for that round's slot money, which is estimated at about $250,000. He declined and was taken by the team 12 rounds later without a phone call beforehand.
"It's definitely a business. I've learned a lot about how people truly are," Rodon said. "I got drafted a lot later than I expected, but it happens. Being drafted is pretty great, and especially on top of a state championship (last week)."
Rodon struck out 135 batters this year, the most in the Triangle, with a 1.40 ERA. Over his last three seasons, he went 23-2 as a starter. During a complete-game two-hit shutout in the first game of the 4-A championship series, his fastball was clocked at 93 mph in the first inning and only trailed off to 90 mph by the seventh.
Creasy is also set to become a member of the Wolfpack baseball team.
Based on which teams had talked to him the most, Creasy expected to see the a Bronx-based area code (the New York Yankees) to be the one showing up on his caller ID.
The Pirates called Creasy early on Tuesday to gauge his interest, telling him they might hear from them in a couple of hours. Before Creasy knew it, his phone was ringing again with the Pirates telling him they'd already made him the 242nd selection in the draft.
"It was really an exciting day," Creasy said. "I'm ready to see what they have to offer and decide what's best for me, based on what they have to offer. We'll see what happens."
Creasy, who was named the Greater Neuse River 4-A Conference pitcher of the year after helping lead the Comets (19-5) to the GNRC championship and a run to the third round of the 4-A playoffs, said he entered the draft process with a 50-50 chance that he'd elect to go to N.C. State for three seasons or accept a contract from the team that drafted him.
He said Tuesday night before playing for the Post 71 Sabres in an American Legion Baseball game in Wilson that he would be looking for above slot money to sign and would like to make his decision by the end of July.
Under the current draft model, slot money doesn't exist after the fifth round, although teams try to keep their signees somewhat slotted by their draft round. Teams are prohibited from signing any player drafted after the fifth round for more than a certain figure set by MLB. Last year, that number was $125,000. That number is expected to be between $125-150,000 this year.
Both players have until Aug. 15 to make their decisions on if they will sign with major league clubs and begin their professional careers or play for the Wolfpack next season.
Rodon's parents said that the decision will be Carlos', but Carlos said the Brewers will have to do the convincing.
"The pressure's on the major league club, not on me," Rodon said, adding he will weigh the benefits of each. "Being away from home, it'd be something different. And going to school and having that experience playing college baseball, that'd be something special.