*Story was published to the Western Carolina Journalist*
A day of celebration came after WCU’s left-handed pitcher Bryan Sammons was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the eighth round and 226th overall of the Major League Baseball draft.
“It was a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve wanted to be a professional baseball player my entire life and to get this opportunity is incredible.”
Sammons is the second straight pitcher to come from WCU and go to the Twins’ organization. Colton Davis who was was the 25th round pick of the Minnesota Twins last year, now plays for the Cedar Rapids Kernels a class A minor league baseball team.
This is the highest round pick since 2009, when the San Francisco Giants drafted Nick Liles in the seventh round. He was then released by the Richmond Flying Squirrels in 2013.
Labeled the “Port City Southpaw” by Catamount Athletics, Sammons comes from Wilmington and says that the feeling of being drafted is surreal and he can’t believe it.
His accolades as he concluded his career at Western included being named National Player of the Week from Collegiate Baseball, Southern Conference Student-Athlete of the Week on March 1 and Southern Conference Pitcher of the Week on April 21. He was also a second team All-Southern Conference selection as a starting pitcher by both the league’s head coaches and voting media.
“WCU consistently has individuals selected in the Major League Baseball draft and I think that is why we continue to see good baseball players flock to WCU,” Athletic Director Randy Eaton said. “However, the fact that Bryan graduated with a degree in Engineering Technology, and made the Chancellor’s list his final semester, is what continues to attract great student-athletes to our program.”
The Statesville native, who just concluded his junior year at WCU, is currently playing in a summer league in Cape Cod and was dubbed second team All-Southern Conference by both the league’s head coaches and voting media.Day three of the draft was another exciting one when shortstop, Brett Pope, was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 22nd round and 658th overall.
Pope is the second player in row to go to the Pirates’ organization. Garrett Brown was drafted in the 23rd round, concluding the 2016 season and played for the Bristol Pirates.
“We are not, and never will be, a ‘baseball factory,’” Eaton said. “What we will be is an athletic program that recruits good student-athletes, focusing on giving them a great experience that always culminates with a degree from Western Carolina University.”
Both Catamount players, Sammons and Pope, have a decision to make if they are going to take their selections or not.
According to the MLB official draft rules, “A Club generally retains the rights to sign a selected player until 11:59 PM (EDT) August 15, or until the player enters, or returns to, a four-year college on a full-time basis.”