The Detroit Tigers told Bryant Packard to worry most about finishing this East Carolina baseball season and not his professional contract negotiations.
Packard, Jake Agnos and Spencer Brickhouse were all drafted as ECU juniors Tuesday during the Major League Baseball draft, which was perfect timing for them as that was the only off day the Pirate players have this week as they are preparing for their NCAA super regional series at Louisville that begins Friday.
Before the team left Greenville on Wednesday, ECU’s trio of talented juniors had already transitioned from draft celebrations to trying to get ECU to the College World Series for the first time by ousting Louisville.
“I’m not ready for my career to be over here just yet,” said Packard, a 2016 D.H. Conley High School graduate whose Pirate accolades include a .406 batting average last year as an All-American sophomore outfielder. “Usually with all the guys who are still in (the NCAA tournament), they say to finish the postseason and then we’ll figure it out. I don’t even know where I’m going, but all I know is that the Tigers are in Detroit.”
Agnos was the first Pirate selected, going in the fourth round to the New York Yankees with a $414,000 approximate draft pick slot value. Packard ($386,600 slot value) went seven picks later, early in the fifth round to the Tigers, and Brickhouse was snagged by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the seventh round with a $209,800 slot value.
“(Agnos) thinks he’s cool because he has more money than me now, but it’s all fun and games,” Packard said. “I was hoping that we would go that close together, and that’s awesome and I’m really happy for him. He deserves it.”
Former ECU head coach Billy Godwin was instrumental in the Yankees’ scouting of Agnos, this year’s American Athletic Conference pitcher of the year who has 140 strikeouts and 42 walks in 98.0 innings, and Godwin was the representative who called Agnos to tell him of the Yankees’ decision.
“Billy Godwin is an awesome guy and he did a lot for this program, and we respect that,” Agnos said. “I’m just happy to be part of an organization like that. My grandfather moved here when he was 18 from Greece back in the 1940s and that is where he came through and so he’s been a Yankees fan ever since. That was kind of cool giving him that call and telling him the news yesterday.”
A few ECU juniors in 2016 had to deal with draft discussions during the super regional at Texas Tech. Current Pirate coach Cliff Godwin said this year’s handling of the draft was much smoother.
“I haven’t been around a group of guys who knew they were going to get drafted, but there just hasn’t been any talk about it,” Godwin said. “I’m not saying they haven’t talked about it, but it has not been at the forefront of their minds. Just us playing our best baseball has, which really is a true credit to those guys.”
The players Wednesday backed up Godwin’s comments that they are fully focused on their super regional series versus Louisville and trying to extend their collegiate careers. ECU has never made the eight-team College World Series in 30 NCAA appearances.
“It was bittersweet to see my name go up because I’ve been waiting for years to see that happen and worked really hard to get to that point, but there still is a lot of work to be done,” said Brickhouse, a first baseman.
Four more East Carolina players were selected Wednesday during the final day of the MLB draft, giving the Pirates a total of seven selections this year.
ECU had three draftees in 2018.
Completing this year’s class of Pirates were pitchers Trey Benton (15th round, Cleveland Indians) and Evan Voliva (18th, New York Yankees) joined by shortstop Turner Brown (19th, Colorado Rockies) and catcher Jake Washer (29th, Chicago Cubs).
Like Agnos, Packard and Brickhouse, Washer and Benton are juniors. Brown and Voliva are seniors.
Contact Ronnie Woodward at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.