Fresh off the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft, several local ballplayers have signed contracts and are already competing within the professional ranks.
Leland native Steven Linkous and UNCW teammate Jared Gessell are competing for the Boise Hawks within the Colorado Rockies organization, while Chance Shepard recently inked as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Nationals and has reported to extended spring training in Vero Beach, Florida.
There are more than a dozen ballplayers with ties to the area competing within the various levels of pro baseball, including a pair of standouts in the big leagues.
Chris Hatcher of the Los Angeles Dodgers tops the list. The right-hander picked up the win with 2.1 scoreless innings pitched in a victory over the weekend against Milwaukee. Hatcher, who had just three career plate appearances heading into his at-bat in the bottom of the third inning, also picked up his first career hit and RBI.
The UNCW alum first reached the big leagues as a catcher back in 2010. That year he played in five games and failed to get a hit in eight plate appearances.
As far as the 2016 season, Hatcher has a 4-3 record and 4.71 ERA in 27 appearances. In 28.2 innings pitched for Los Angeles, he has 29 strikeouts. After struggling to find the strike zone early this spring, walking a career-high 6.4 batters per nine innings, Hatcher met in a closed door meeting with first-year Manager Dave Roberts and Pitching Coach Rick Honeycutt as reported by Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times. Since their chat in late May, Hatcher has allowed just three earned runs in eight appearances and 11.2 innings.
Mike Wright of nearby Whiteville High School in Columbus County has made 12 starts for the Baltimore Orioles this year, with a 3-4 record and 6.12 earned run average. His best outing of the season came on June 6 when the East Carolina University product tossed seven shutout innings against the Kansas City Royals.
Listed below are updated stats for each of the area pro ballplayers as of June 20.
- 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 (33 games, 116 At-Bats, .308AVG, 10 2B, 18 RBI, 1HR)
- Luke Tendler, Laney, OF, Texas Rangers, High Desert Maverick, Class A Advanced California League (66 games, 257At-Bats, .276AVG, 18 2B, 3 3B, 9HR, 45RBI)
- Zack Shields, UNCW, OF, Cincinnati Reds, Dayton Dragons, Class A Midwest League (43 Games, 164 At-Bats, .244AVG. 23 R, 40 H, 9 2B, 3 3B)
- Erick Jenkins, West Columbus, OF, Ranger, Hickory Crawdads, Class A South Atlantic League (62 Games, 251 At-Bats, .282 AVG, 39 R, 55 H, 6 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR, 17 RBI)
- Jeff Ferrell, Laney, RHP, Detroit Tigers, Toledo Muds Hens, Class AAA International League (6 Games, 7.1IP, 2-1 W/L, 7.36 ERA)
- Tyler DeLoach, UNCW, LHP, Los Angeles Angels, Arkansas Travelers, Class AA Texas League (22 Games, 31.1IP, 2-1 W/L, 1.72ERA, 1Save, 36K)
- Kelly Secrest, UNCW, LHP, New York Mets, Binghamton Mets, Class AA Eastern League (12 Games, 0-1 W/L, 5.51 ERA, 16.1IP)
- Evan Phillips, UNCW, RHP, Atlanta Braves, Carolina Mudcats, Class A Advanced Carolina League (20 Games, 2-1 W/L, 0.99 ERA, 27.1IP, 3ER, 19 K)
- Nick Monroe, UNCW, RHP, San Diego Padres, Fort Wayne Tincaps, Class A Midwest League (18 Games, 2-2 W/L, 4.83 ERA, 31.2 IP, 35K)
- Steven Linkous, UNCW, OF, Colorado Rockies, Boise Hawks (2 Games, 2-for-9)
- Jared Gessell, UNCW, RHP, Colorado Rockies, Boise Hawks (1 Game, 1IP, 1H, 2K)
- Markel Jones, Brunswick Community College, OF, Baltimore Orioles,
- Gavin Stupienski, UNCW, C/DH, Arizona Diamondbacks