Wake Forest’s baseball program is likely to lose two right-handed pitchers and an infielder to baseball’s amateur draft — again.
And after that is when the intrigue and unknown enters for the Deacons.
The draft begins Monday night with the first two rounds plus compensation and competitive balance picks, continues Tuesday with rounds 3-10, and wraps up Wednesday with rounds 11-40. The Deacons have three juniors who are likely to be selected and sign contracts, while two draft-eligible sophomores could also wind up leaving Wake Forest and a few signees could be selected.
The juniors are right-handed pitchers Colin Peluse and Morgan McSweeney and infielder Patrick Frick. Though Peluse (3-8, 5.74 ERA) and McSweeney (3-3, 7.64) struggled this season, they’re expected to be picked high enough to garner six-figure signing bonuses. Frick was second on the team with a .360 batting average and scored a team-best 61 runs.
“I don’t expect to have Colin or Morgan back next year. I think both of those guys will sign and move on to professional baseball. Same thing with Pat Frick,” Coach Tom Walter of Wake Forest said. “Now having said that, the draft is fickle. I don’t think those guys are going to go out and sign for nothing.”
Wake Forest lost three juniors last year, too, and strangely enough they were nearly identical positions — right-handed pitchers Griffin Roberts and Rayne Supple were selected, and infielder Johnny Aiello was also picked. Roberts was a first-round pick in the competitive balance portion, going 43rd overall, while Supple went in the 13th round and Aiello in the 14th.
Otherwise, though, the Deacons didn’t have much to fret about in last season’s draft. The Colorado Rockies nabbed signee Grant Lavigne with the 42nd overall pick and he signed for $2 million, foregoing his commitment to Wake Forest — but that was expected. Then incoming pitcher Ryan Cusick was picked in the 40th round and didn’t sign, coming to Wake Forest and putting together a freshman season that could be a foundation to be the Deacons’ Friday-night starter next season.
But the Deacons could lose more than the three juniors this time around.
Outfielders Chris Lanzilli and DJ Poteet are draft-eligible sophomores. Lanzilli hit a team-high 16 home runs, was second with 67 RBIs, third with a .347 batting average and his 152 total bases led the team. Poteet struggled at the plate, hitting .199 with 67 strikeouts in 176 at-bats.
Lanzilli was named a third-team All-America pick from Collegiate Baseball this past Thursday and figures to receive a few more nods from baseball publications. Walter is optimistic Lanzilli will be back in Winston-Salem for next season, based partially on the signing bonus he’s submitted — every prospect submits an amount as the minimum that they’d sign for.
“I think the chances are good that we get (Lanzilli) back. He’s putting — as he should — an aggressive number out there,” Walter said. “He’s not going to sign for $125,000 and a year of school. That just doesn’t make any sense. He’ll be able to do that next year and be a year closer to a degree.”
Walter said it’ll also come down to Lanzilli’s evaluation as a prospect. The left fielder is a dangerous right-handed hitter — and has room to improve in other areas.
“I think he’s got some things to prove. I think right now he’s kind of tabbed as kind of a one-dimensional, offense-only player, and he understands that,” Walter said. “He and (ACC player of the year Bobby) Seymour both, they know, they understand that if they go out and show themselves to be better defenders and just be major-league average defenders, that’s going to increase their draft stock and their marketability and their paycheck.”
Lanzilli, Seymour and Poteet are three of the nine Deacons who will play in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League, the premier collegiate summer league. Other Deacons in the league will be pitchers Antonio Menendez, William Fleming, Jared Shuster and Cusick, outfielder Michael Ludowig and catcher/pitcher Shane Muntz.
Wake Forest’s full signing class hasn’t been announced, but three signees have Walter’s attention as players who could be picked high enough and enticed with enough money to skip college.
They are: Eric Adler, a right-handed pitcher/outfielder from Melborne, Fla.; Stephen Loubier, a right-handed pitcher/first baseman from Winter Springs, Fla.; and corner infielder Adam Cecere from Windber, Penn.
“The two pitchers from Florida, Adler and Loubier, are certainly guys that are getting a lot of attention,” Walter said. “But both of those guys have put out relatively aggressive numbers. I think we’re going to be OK, but with Florida kids I always worry. They seem to be a little more signable than in other parts of the country.
“There’s nobody that I’m super worried about, but I’m cautiously optimistic on those three guys.”