MLB Pack Pros are faring quite well in 2021. Chicago White Sox left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodón tossed a no-hitter in April, Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop and second baseman Trea Turner joined the Dodgers’ World Series title defense and St. Louis Cardinals catcher Andrew Knizner is blossoming in his age-26 season as he prepares to take the reins from long-time Cards backstop Yadier Molina. With a new wave of talent on its way to major league ballparks from coast to coast, these successes are only the beginning for MLB Pack Pros.
For starters, the San Francisco Giants farm system is undoubtedly the hub of upcoming Wolfpack baseball alumni. With catcher Patrick Bailey and right-handed pitcher Nick Swiney progressing with the low-A San Jose Giants and shortstop Will Wilson already promoted to the double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels, all three of the Giants’ MiLB Pack Pros rank in the top 20 of all prospects in San Francisco’s system.
Wilson is projected to ascend to the majors next season while Bailey and Swiney are projected to earn call-ups in 2023, so they are looking to add more fuel to the Giants’ current surge of talent that has them at the top of the heavily contested NL West. If Wilson, Swiney and Bailey can fulfill their big-league potential, the National League West will be the division to watch for fans of NC State baseball.
Turner is another player poised to influence the NL West playoff picture for years to come, as he is providing new blood to the Dodgers’ dynasty after playing for the Washington Nationals since 2014. With Turner speeding around the basepaths at Dodger Stadium and the Giants possessing so much promise with the previously mentioned trio of Bailey, Swiney and Wilson, the west coast is primed to emerge as a hotspot for MLB Pack Pros.
Even with the abundance of talent on the shores of the Pacific, a pair of Wolfpack baseball legends have been singing Sweet Home Chicago since the start of their pro careers. Rodón is finally bursting into the national spotlight this season, putting up elite stats to put himself in AL Cy Young conversation after going third overall in the 2014 MLB draft. Following his tenure as the Pack’s ace in its run to the 2013 College World Series, Rodón battled a sequence of arm injuries before the breakout season he is having now.
Another Wolfpack legend is Arizona Complex League White Sox outfielder Terrell Tatum, who has his sights set on the big leagues. Though he is still establishing himself at the professional level, Tatum is tearing it up in rookie ball, slashing .324/.500/.500 in 11 games. Tatum had a memorable College World Series of his own in 2021, smashing a game-deciding solo home run off Vanderbilt right-handed pitcher Jack Leiter in the 2021 College World Series. Assuming Rodón stays with the White Sox once his current contract expires at season’s end, Tatum will have the opportunity to work his way to the show and contribute to the south-siders’ resurgence to playoff contention.
The Wolfpack is well-represented in other parts of the midwest as well, with outfielder Austin Murr putting on a clinic on plate discipline as he works his way through the Detroit Tigers’ organization, shortstop Jose Torres asserting himself as a key cog in the Cincinnati Reds’ organization and catcher Luca Tresh representing the Pack in rookie ball for the Kansas City Royals.
At the major league level, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Andrew Knizner is seeing more playing time than ever before as he vies to become St. Louis’ next catcher once Molina retires at the end of the 2022 season. Not to be left out, the east coast boasts talent of its own in second baseman and MiLB Pack Pro Tyler McDonough, who is playing well in his first year with the Boston Red Sox organization.
If there were not enough impactful MiLB Pack Pros being named already, Lansing Lugnuts outfielder Jonny Butler is proving his worth after going to the Oakland Athletics in the 14th round of this year’s draft. With so much Wolfpack baseball talent across the country, the future looks incredibly bright both for current MLB Pack Pros and those in the making.