Murr at CWS

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 19: NC State against Stanford during the Division I Baseball Championship held at TD Ameritrade Park on June 19, 2021 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Mark Kuhlmann/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

The 2021 MLB Draft saw a smorgasbord of NC State storylines unravel at once, with catcher Luca Tresh’s freefall down the draft boards and the multitude of Wolfpack hitters selected in the draft. Although no Pack player was selected on the first day, the deluge of selections in the following two days speaks to the success of State’s baseball program.

The first selection of the draft out of NC State was second baseman Tyler McDonough, who took a $828,600 signing bonus from the Boston Red Sox, a shade below the $831,100 estimated value of the 75th overall pick that the Red Sox used to get McDonough. Although primarily a center fielder at NC State, the Red Sox plan to utilize McDonough as a utility player in the long run.

The Cincinnati Reds saved a bit of money as well with their selection of shortstop Jose Torres, who is currently playing for the Reds’ Arizona Complex League team. The highest-ranked NC State player heading into the draft signed with the Reds for $622,500, slightly below his value of $667,900 at the 89th pick.

This trend only continued as day two went along. Left-handed pitcher Evan Justice signed with the Colorado Rockies for $150,000, which was less than half of his pick value, and left fielder Austin Murr took a cut about $100,00 less than his pick value to sign with the Detroit Tigers for an even $200,000. While Justice has yet to make an appearance at the professional level, Murr is putting on a plate discipline clinic in low-A ball, sporting a .532 on-base percentage with the Lakeland Flying Tigers.

One of the biggest stories of the draft was Tresh’s slide on the last day of the draft. Initially ranked just outside the top 100 players in the draft pool, Tresh’s habit of striking out frequently during his last season at NC State seemed to take a much larger toll on his draft stock than expected, as he plummeted to the 17th round before the Kansas City Royals took him with the 499th overall pick. Tresh’s finances did not take as much of a hit however, as he secured a $423,00 signing bonus, a figure larger than Murr’s and Justice’s combined.

A pair of Wolfpack hitters ended up going ahead of Tresh instead, as outfielders Jonny Butler and Terrell Tatum each took a $125,000 signing bonus from the Oakland Athletics and the Chicago White Sox, respectively. Right-handed pitcher Reid Johnston was the only NC State draftee to sign for under six figures, taking a $75,000 bonus to sign with the Cleveland Indians after being selected in the 19th round. 

The end of the draft did not signal the end of the signings, however. The Los Angeles Angels picked up third baseman Vojtech Mensik as a free-agent signing. Mensik’s signing makes him the second Czech-born player in professional baseball, as catcher Martin Cervenka signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets last March.

NC State baseball added several new ballplayers to the minor league system, as seven of the Wolfpack’s starting lineup in 2021 are now moving on to pro ball. Although head coach Elliott Avent has his work cut out for him to build upon last year’s success with so much roster turnover. The success in the MLB draft speaks to his program’s ability to find and develop talent for the next level.