Alec Burleson was selected in the Major League Baseball draft Thursday night, going No. 70 overall to the St. Louis Cardinals during second round compensation picks.
His selection is worth a slot value signing bonus of $906,800, which means he will likely end his collegiate career to sign with St. Louis as the the fourth-highest pick in ECU history. His selection came on the same day he was named an academic All-American as part of a versatile and productive career for the Pirates.
“He is a big-time weekend starter in the upper 80s (miles per hour) to low 90s with a good breaking ball and a good pitcher,” ESPN draft analyst Kiley McDaniel said during the network’s broadcast. “He has more upside as a hitter in pro ball. He has power potential and profiles as an everyday right fielder. It’s just that he has been splitting time.”
ESPN listed Burleson as a right fielder/left-handed pitcher.
He was ranked by MLB.com as the No. 137 draft prospect. Fellow ECU junior Gavin Williams, a righty who has been clocked multiple times throwing 100 miles per hour, was 91st. Williams was not picked.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty with minor league baseball, the draft was limited to five rounds this year. It typically is 40 rounds.
The Cardinals in recent years also selected ECU pitchers Evan Kruczynski (2017) and Chris Holba (2018). Kruczynski advanced to Triple-A last year in the Cardinals’ farm system. Former Pirate great Seth Maness pitched for St. Louis from 2013-16, including in four games of the 2013 World Series.
Burleson enjoyed a breakout sophomore year in 2019, when he led ECU in batting average (.370) and RBIs (61) along with hitting nine home runs and serving as one of the team’s most valuable pitchers. He had a 6-2 record, five saves and a 3.28 ERA in 60.1 innings, earning inclusion on five All-America teams and serving as a finalist for the John Olerud national player of the year award.
The Denver, N.C., native emerged as one of the top two-way players in the country and also on Thursday earned a first-team academic All-America nod from CoSIDA for the second straight year, joining Cliff Godwin (1999, 2001) and Sam Narron (2001-02) as the only Pirates ever as multiple-year academic All-Americans.
Burleson’s versatility is key to his value. He has played prominently at right field, left field and first base, along with serving as a designated hitter, weekend starting pitcher and multi-inning closer.
East Carolina had a school-record seven players selected in the 2019 draft and they all signed, including then-juniors Bryant Packard, Jake Agnos, Spencer Brickhouse, Jake Washer and Trey Benton.
Both of the Louisville starting pitchers the Pirates faced while losing a 2019 super regional series at Louisville were picked during the first round Wednesday night. Reid Detmers went 10th to the Los Angeles Angels, and Bobby Miller 29th to the L.A. Dodgers.
Spencer Torkelson was the first overall pick by the Detroit Tigers.