Through all the uncertainty in the last couple of months, NC State baseball star catcher Patrick Bailey has been preparing for the 2020 MLB draft on June 10 and will likely hear his name called early on.
Bailey became eligible for the draft after spending three years with the Wolfpack, and he enters the offseason as one of the highest-rated prospects in the country. MLB.com ranks him as the top catcher of the 2020 draft and the 17th prospect overall.
“What I’m looking forward to the most is just continuing to get around baseball guys,” Bailey said. “You learn from everybody, and that’s one thing I’ve enjoyed about NC State is just the knowledge and information I’ve learned there… that’s the thing that I’ll miss the most is the atmosphere that the fans brought and the relationships that you’re able to build with your peers.”
In the 2020 season that was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bailey hit .296 with six home runs and 20 RBIs, both first on the team, appearing in all 17 games. Although his batting average was a step down from hitting .321 his freshman year, it’s up from last year and is partially due to his 17 walks, which pushed his on-base percentage to .466.
As soon as Bailey stepped on the field, fans and teammates knew he was going to be a special player, earning most of the All-ACC honors and All-American honors possible during his time in Raleigh.
“I don’t think it’ll be any less magical,” Bailey said. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid playing T-ball, which was the starting line of my dream to play in the major leagues, but I think it’ll be a pretty special moment still.”
The 2020 MLB draft will start with the first round on June 10, where Bailey will almost certainly hear his name called. Day two will consist of rounds 2-5 and the rest of the players will have to be signed as free agents. This is a major change from the 40 rounds the draft normally consists of. Bailey is projected to go anywhere between picks 10 and 20, but especially with a position like catcher, it’s based on the need of the team.
“There’ve been around 10 or 11 teams that have reached out,” Bailey said. “And wanted to do what [the media and him] are doing right now and it’s been cool to get to know those organizations and whatnot, but not any team in particular.”
The switch-hitting, power-hitting catcher brings a lot of tools with him to professional ball, especially on the defensive side with his experience calling games through high school and college. However, when he will be able to use those tools is up in the air. With some major sports eyeing comebacks in the coming months, Minor League Baseball could come soon after, but maybe not until fans are allowed back in stadiums.
Whenever Bailey gets back on the field, he will be as prepared as possible. Aside from just working out, Bailey said he’s been able to do some tee work and even a little bit of live pitching where possible.
“I’ve been staying in Raleigh and I’ve got a place to work out and hit at, so I’ve been able to stay in shape and keep swinging a little bit,” Bailey said. “...Stay in shape, keep working out, keep getting stronger. Like I said about my swing, being able to work more mechanics-based, not being in season, it’s been nice. It sucks that we’re not playing but just trying to take advantage of what I can do during this time.”
Until then, Bailey said he has had a lot more free time to play golf and hang out with his fiance before their wedding in November.
Although he is understandably excited about the potential to move to the next level, Bailey will miss his time at NC State, especially the teammates and coaches that have helped him grow to where he is today.
“[Not seeing my teammates and coaches] was definitely the hardest part with everything going on and everything being canceled,” Bailey said. “It never really sunk in with me until everybody started going home, and that’s when I was like, ‘Dang, this is over. I might not ever play with these guys again.’ It was one heck of a ride and I really enjoyed the relationships that we built and we will obviously stay in touch.”
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