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Movin' on up: Packard quickly advances to next level

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East Carolina's Bryant Packard, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring against Tulane on April 27, 2019. (Molly Urbina/The Daily Reflector)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, July 8, 2019

Recent East Carolina star and former D.H. Conley High School standout Bryant Packard needed only 10 games in professional baseball to move on to the next level.

Packard, a 21-year-old outfielder and fifth-round selection this year by the Detroit Tigers, was promoted over the weekend from the short-season Connecticut Tigers to the Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps in the Midwest League.

In his first 10 games, the left-handed hitter and former NCAA All-American produced a .361 batting average and .442 on-base percentage. His 13 hits included two doubles, and in his final game with the Tigers of the New York-Penn League on Friday, he went 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.

Packard said Monday, before he started in left field and was third in the batting order in his Single-A debut, that the team culture earlier in Connecticut aided his personal success.

“It was a great experience, and I was blessed to have some of the best coaches who really cared about making it a team culture and getting your work in when needed,” he said.

The next level for Packard to potentially reach is a promotion to the Advanced Single-A Lakeland (Fla.) Flying Tigers. Packard reportedly signed in mid-June for his full draft slot bonus of $386,600.

He and six other players on this year's ECU team, which won the NCAA Greenville Regional and had its season end June 8 in the super regional round at Louisville for a final 47-18 record, were selected in the Major League Baseball draft.

"I love pro baseball and it’s a (pro) mindset," Packard said. "Although I really miss college baseball. ECU was great to me and I can’t wait to be back there in the fall (to visit and work out in the offseason)."

Jake Agnos is beginning his career as a full-time starting pitcher, notching two starts already in the New York Yankees organization after his fourth-round selection. The lefty made his debut last week with the short-season Staten Island Yankees, delivering three scoreless and hitless innings with five strikeouts and a walk. He has 11 strikeouts and two walks in 5.0 innings.

Major league teams are on their All-Star break, with Shawn Armstrong serving as the only former Pirate on an active MLB roster. He is a reliever for the Baltimore Orioles.

Fellow pitcher Jharel Cotton is on the 60-day injured list as part of the Oakland Athletics' 40-man roster.

Jeff Hoffman, the ninth overall pick by Toronto in the 2014 draft, made seven starts earlier this year for the Colorado Rockies and is currently in Triple-A pitching for the Albuquerque (N.M.) Isotopes. Other former Pirates in Triple-A are infield utility man Jack Reinheimer (Orioles) and pitchers Seth Maness (Texas Rangers) and Mike Wright (Seattle Mariners).

Reinheimer played outfield, third base, shortstop and second base during his 21-game major league stint with the New York Mets in 2018.

Maness, 30, is set for his third-career minor league All-Star appearance on Wednesday in El Paso, Texas, for the Triple-A All-Star game. The former reliever for the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals has returned to starting pitching, making 12 starts this season for the Nashville Sounds with a 5-2 record and 4.97 ERA to earn All-Star status.

He has 41 strikeouts and seven walks in 67.0 innings.

Evan Kruczynski, who pitched for ECU from 2014-17, has spent time in Double-A and Triple-A this year. He is back in Double-A, where he excelled late last summer after earning an Advanced-A All-Star nod and started for the Springfield (Mo.) Cardinals on Monday night looking to improve his 2-3 record and 6.84 ERA this season.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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