After four were taken on day two, four more NC State baseball players were selected on the third and final day of the MLB draft on Tuesday, July 13. Among the Pack’s day three selections was sophomore catcher Luca Tresh, who was not selected until the 499th pick despite ranking as the No. 101 prospect in the draft pool.
Junior left fielder Jonny Butler was the first Wolfpack player to come off the board on the third day of the draft, going to the Oakland Athletics in the 14th round with the 428th overall pick. Given the offensive numbers he produced in his junior year, it is easy to see why the A’s were willing to give Butler a shot.
The winner of the ACC batting title in 2021, Butler was the best statistical hitter in an NC State lineup filled to the brim with high-quality bats. Butler placed in the top 10 in the ACC in several batting categories, including fourth in slugging percentage and sixth in on-base percentage, so his bat will take him far if he can produce similar figures in the Athletics organization.
A couple of rounds later, another Wolfpack power bat was taken as the Chicago White Sox selected junior designated hitter Terrell Tatum with the 485th overall pick in the 16th round. A projected outfielder at the professional level, Tatum showed both tremendous strength and speed, homering 12 times and swiping 16 bases over the course of 53 games.
Tatum also struck out 68 times last season, second-most on the Wolfpack only behind Tresh, so there is still room for improvement for the Pack’s primary cleanup hitter last season. If Tatum can keep the strikeouts to a minimum, his raw talent should develop quite nicely in the White Sox organization.
Tresh finally heard his name called in the 17th round, going to the Kansas City Royals with the 499th overall pick. The No. 101 prospect in the draft, Tresh’s above-average arm and solid pop were overshadowed by his poor contact hitting in 2021.
Tresh struck out 71 times in his third season at NC State, and without an increase in power numbers to justify his high strikeout rate, the Floridian’s draft stock dropped precipitously as the collegiate season progressed. Now that the Royals have ultimately taken a chance on him, it will be up to Tresh to consistently put the bat on the ball in the professional ranks so his power bat can shine.
One more NC State baseball player was selected before the day was done, as junior right-handed pitcher Reid Johnston was taken with the 576th overall pick by Cleveland in the 19th round. One of the Pack’s best pitchers since coming to NC State in 2018, Johnston led the 2021 squad in both innings pitched and strikeouts, a testament to his combination of stamina and skill on the mound.
However, Johnston also surrendered a team-leading 14 home runs last season, so he will have to improve in that area of his game at the next level. Considering that and the fact that he already has a significant amount of mileage on his arm from college ball, Johnston will have to prove his worth in the Cleveland farm system. But judging from the workhorse mentality he has displayed up to this point, Johnston is perfectly capable of rising to the challenge.