E.P. Reese, a former star outfielder at North Davidson and Winston-Salem State, has been selected in the 25th round of the Major League Draft.
Reese, a center fielder for the Rams this season, was taken by the Houston Astros with the 767th overall pick in the 40-round draft.
“This is like a dream come true for me,” Reese said by phone shortly after being selected. “I had some indication about the 21st or 22nd round because they called me and told me they were looking to select me. So I’m obviously excited.”
He became the second straight WSSU center fielder to be drafted. Last June, Randy Norris was picked in the 19th round by the San Francisco Giants.
The WSSU baseball program has been cut after nine seasons for financial reasons, but having Reese drafted speaks volumes, according to outgoing Coach Kevin Ritsche. It’s the first time in school history players have been drafted in back-to-back years.
“It’s a big deal and we are happy for E.P. and his family,” Ritsche said of Reece, who is 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds. “To have two players drafted two years in a row is something the entire program can be proud of.”
Before Norris was drafted last summer, the last time a WSSU athlete was taken was pitcher Ray Chadwick in 1983 by the California Angels in the 16th round (415th overall). Chadwick was picked despite WSSU not having a baseball program at the time.
Reese, who had transferred to Mount Olive after WSSU baseball was shut down, led the Rams with a .408 batting average and 26 stolen bases, and he finished the season with 54 runs scored and 35 RBIs.
“It was in the back of mind that I was hoping to get drafted if I had a good season, but I really just wanted to help us win games,” Reese said. “We did win some games, and now I’ve been drafted, so it worked out for me.”
WSSU finished the season 35-16 and was named the HBCU national champion for small schools as selected by the Black College Nines website.
Reese, who transferred to WSSU from Liberty, has already talked with the Mount Olive coaches, and he will be signing with the Astros at some point.
“There were no hard feelings with the coaches there at Mount Olive, and they understood and wished me well,” said Reese, 21, who graduated from North Davidson in 2016. “I didn’t want to risk getting injured or anything, so I’m ready for pro ball and what’s ahead.”
Reese signed with N.C. State out of North Davidson but never played for the Wolfpack. He played one season at Liberty before coming to WSSU, where he had a 3.8 GPA this year.
“E.P. came to us and worked hard every day he went out there,” Ritsche said. “It’s hard to compare E.P. with Randy because Randy was so athletic, but they are both obviously talented players.”
Earlier this month Reese was named to the American Baseball Coaches Association’s Division II All-Region Team.
“E.P. really had a consistent season for us and he played in every game,” Ritsche said. “He showed his ability in the field and at the plate, so I’m not surprised he was named all-region.”
Reese said shortly after being selected by the Astros that he received a text message from Norris. The two spent a season as teammates with the High Point-Thomasville Hi-Toms, who play in the Coastal Plain League.
“He was happy to hear about me getting drafted,” Reese said.