The 2017 MLB Draft kicked off Monday evening at 7, with the first two rounds and 75 picks set to be made before the end of the night. Follow along to find out where the top prospects from North Carolina high schools and colleges will be headed.
MacKenzie Gore (Whiteville HS, Whiteville, N.C.): Round 1, Pick 3 (San Diego Padres)
A 6-foot-1 left-handed pitcher, Gore led 1A Whiteville High School to three state championships and is the first top-five pick drafted straight out of high school in North Carolina since Josh Hamilton in 1999. Gore was Baseball America’s 38th-best prospect when his high school season started this spring, but was nearly unhittable as a senior, shooting up draft boards with an 11-0 record and a 0.19 ERA. At the end of the season, he was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year.
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Gore has a fastball that reaches 95 miles per hour and also mixes in an effective curveball, slider and changeup. The 18-year-old committed to East Carolina in 2015, but is unlikely to turn down a multi-million dollar signing bonus to skip college and join the Padres’ system right away.
Joe Dunand (N.C. State): Round 2, Pick 51 (Miami Marlins)
A shortstop that is expected to move to third base at the pro level, Dunand was projected to go in the third or fourth round and is not one of MLB.com’s top 100 players in the draft. The Marlins decided to take a chance on the Wolfpack slugger, though, hoping that his power will translate to the next level.
Dunand, the nephew of 14-time MLB All-Star Alex Rodriguez, led N.C. State with 18 home runs, 51 RBIs and a .632 slugging percentage as a junior this season, but struggled in the field with 17 errors. He is also prone to striking out, but when he connects at the plate, the ball can travel a long way.
Gavin Sheets (Wake Forest): Round 2, Pick 49 (Chicago White Sox)
Sheets was drafted in the 37th round out of high school in 2014, but his decision to go to school instead paid dividends. The 6-foot-5 first baseman was one of the most dangerous power hitters in the nation this spring, leading the ACC with 20 home runs and 81 RBIs, and he made up a lethal duo in the middle of the lineup with fellow second-rounder Stuart Fairchild to help Wake Forest make an appearance in the super regionals.
Stuart Fairchild (Wake Forest): Round 2, Pick 38 (Cincinnati Reds)
Fairchild’s Demon Deacons were eliminated from the NCAA tournament Monday against Florida one win short of their first trip to Omaha for the College World Series since 1955, but the silver lining to his night came shortly after the season ended. The junior outfielder hit .360 to lead the team this season and also enjoyed a jolt of power with 17 home runs, an improvement from five homers in 2016.
Brian Miller (North Carolina): Round 1 Supplemental, Pick 36 (Miami Marlins)
Miller started college as a walk-on out of Millbrook High School in Raleigh, but emerged as a regular starter in the middle of his freshman season and kept getting better, leading the Tar Heels in batting average the last two years. He spent his junior year leading off and playing center field this spring, earning first-team All-ACC recognition after playing primarily as a designated hitter and first baseman for his first two seasons.
The speedy contact hitter led the team in stolen bases and runs as a sophomore and junior, and he also showed some glimpses of power this season, belting seven home runs.
Logan Warmoth (North Carolina): Round 1, Pick 22 (Toronto Blue Jays)
Warmoth rose into the first round with a first-team All-American junior year in 2017, batting .336 and leading the Tar Heels in doubles, triples and home runs. The smooth-fielding shortstop also has good speed with 18 stolen bases this season.
Warmoth and starting pitcher J.B. Bukauskas are the first North Carolina teammates to be selected in the first round since Dustin Ackley and Alex White both went in the top 15 in 2009.
J.B. Bukauskas (North Carolina): Round 1, Pick 15 (Houston Astros)
Bukauskas was the 2017 ACC Pitcher of the Year after an undefeated regular season and was in North Carolina’s weekend rotation all three years of his career, improving every season. The only defeat in his 9-1 record this year came in the Tar Heels’ first NCAA tournament loss against Davidson, which may have caused him to drop a few spots to the Astros, but he will now be a part of the organization that currently has the best record in baseball with a young core and a bright future.
With a fastball in the mid-90s and an impressive slider, Bukauskas struck out 116 batters in 92 2/3 innings this year and still has the option to return to school for his senior year if he does not agree to terms with the Astros. He is the first Tar Heel selected in the first round since third baseman Colin Moran was taken sixth overall in 2013.
Austin Beck (North Davidson HS; Lexington, N.C.): Round 1, Pick 6 (Oakland Athletics)
With Beck’s selection, the first two North Carolinians picked both came straight from the high school ranks. Beck is a versatile 6-foot-2 center fielder who led North Davidson High School to the third round of the state playoffs this spring. He tore his ACL in last spring’s state playoffs, which kept him out of the summer and fall showcases that generally give top prospects exposure to pro scouts, and remains a bit of a mystery against top competition.
Like Gore, Beck also has a decision to make between signing a lucrative contract or going to school. He is committed to play in college for North Carolina.