Four UNCW baseball players, including North Brunswick High School alum Steven Linkous, and Brunswick Community College outfielder Markel Jones, had childhood dreams realized this weekend as their names were called during the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft.
Left-handed pitcher Taylor Hyssong was taken in the eighth round by the Atlanta Braves on Friday, while Linkous, Gavin Stupienski and Jared Gessell gave UNCW 67 overall picks in the draft since 1966.
Hyssong finished his final season with the Seahawks with a 2-0 record, one save and a 4.19 earned run average. The senior southpaw opened the spring with a pair of starts, but moved to the bullpen where he flourished. Over the course of 21 relief appearances, he fashioned an ERA of 3.52, while striking out 24 batters in 30.2 innings.
Hyssong, who transferred into the program from Pitt Community College, became the second Seahawk selected by the Braves in as many seasons (Evan Phillips, 2015). He also is the ninth UNCW player to be drafted in the top-10 rounds.
Stupienski was the 359th overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 12th round. Linkous (22nd round/650 overall) and Gessell (23rd round/680 overall) were both selected by the Colorado Rockies.
Linkous was one of three Seahawks to repeat as an All-CAA honoree. The Leland native ignited the Seahawks offense all spring, setting a school single-season record with 78 runs scored, which also led the NCAA. While hitting at the top of the lineup, Linkous also had team-leading .378 average and drove in 43 runs. He paced the team with a .460 on base average and 29 steals.
Coming off a trip to the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series, Jones was selected with the 991st overall pick in the 31st round by the Baltimore Orioles. The West Brunswick High School graduate and Campbell University commit finished his sophomore season at BCC with a .406 average and team-high in hits (89), doubles (14), triples (10), homeruns (10), RBIs (55) and stolen bases (23).
Listed below are area standouts who are currently playing professional baseball throughout various levels, including a pair of pitchers throwing in the big leagues.
- Chris Hatcher, UNCW, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Mike Wright, Whiteville/East Carolina, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
- Jordan Betts, New Hanover/Duke, 3B, Boston Red Sox, Salem Red Sox, Class A Advanced Carolina League
- Luke Tendler, Laney, OF, Texas Rangers, High Desert Maverick, Class A Advanced California League
- Zack Shields, UNCW, OF, Cincinnati Reds, Dayton Dragons, Class A Midwest League
- Erick Jenkins, West Columbus, OF, Ranger, Hickory Crawdads, Class A South Atlantic League
- Jeff Ferrell, Laney, RHP, Detroit Tigers, Toledo Muds Hens, Class AAA International League
- Tyler DeLoach, UNCW, LHP, Angels, Arkansas Travelers, Class AA Texas League
- Kelly Secrest, UNCW, LHP, Meets, St. Lucie Mets, Class A Advanced Florida State League
- Evan Phillips, UNCW, RHP, Braves, Carolina Mudcats, Class A Advanced Carolina League
- Nick Monroe, UNCW, RHP, Padres, Fort Wayne Tincaps, Class A Midwest League