Four Pirates selected in MLB Draft|Harris, Wood, Heston, Batts are chosen

Published 1:17 am Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sports Editor

Devin Harris and Chris Heston have some serious thinking to do in the next few days. Both Harris and Heston are juniors.
Meanwhile, seniors Stephen Batts and Ryan Wood know they are headed to professional baseball organizations.
The four East Carolina Pirates were selected Wednesday on the second day of the 2009 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Wood went to the Kansas City Royals in the 11th round (332nd overall pick). Batts was chosen by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 19th round (587th pick).
Harris was the first Pirate to go, getting picked in the eighth round with the 236th overall selection by the Baltimore Orioles. Heston went in the 12th round with the 357th pick to the San Francisco Giants.
“I’m excited, particularly for our two seniors,” ECU fourth-year coach Billy Godwin said. “They came back their senior year and proved themselves. I think both would say they had great experiences.
“I’m also excited for Devin and Chris. They have some options.”
For Wood and Batts, the two capped off their college careers by helping to lead the Pirates (46-20) to the Super Regionals for the third time in school history.
“Playing at ECU was a great experience,” said Batts, an All-Conference USA First Team selection. “The biggest thing was the friendships. It was a great feeling to play with all those guys.”
Batts, who hit .352 with 14 homers, 63 RBIs and 19 stolen bases, will report to Williamsport, Pa., on Monday to begin his professional baseball career.
“I’m going to get a chance to play so I’m really excited,” said Batts, who may compete for a position in the outfield and/or first base. “(The Phillies) have a great organization and they won a World Series. I’m ready.”
Wood, who earned All-America honors from Ping!Baseball (First Team), National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (Second Team) and Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger (Third Team), was on the golf course with Batts and Godwin, among others, when he learned he had been drafted.
“I was on the golf course on the first hole when I got a text message from (ECU Director of Operations) Brian Cavanaugh that said congratulations,” Wood said. “Then I got a call from the Royals. I was relieved and excited.”
Wood, an All-C-USA First Team selection who led the Pirates with a .379 batting average, smacked 100 hits this season. He smashed 14 homers, scored an ECU single-season record 87 runs, drove in 57 and walked 50 times.
While Wood could be used as a pitcher, he said he’s heading to the Royals’ organization as a shortstop.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “I’m excited at the chance to play baseball. They told me I would go as a shortstop and that’s what I want to do.”
Harris is undecided about his future. The junior outfielder, who hit .344 with 14 homers, 63 RBIs and 13 stolen bases, was still waiting on an offer from the Orioles.
“I’ve been preparing myself for this (decision),” Harris said. “I have to discuss it with my family. It’s a win-win situation for me. If I do sign, I’ll be closer to where I want to be, which is obviously to be in the majors. If I go back, I return to a great program with great fans cheering me on.”
Harris, who hit the game-tying, three-run homer and the game-winning RBI single in ECU’s 10-9, 10th-inning comeback victory over South Carolina in the 2009 NCAA Greenville Regional championship game, was excited to see his name scroll across the computer screen during the draft.
“I had a lot of feelings,” Harris said. “I was really excited. It’s something I’ve worked for my whole life. It was kind of a huge relief to get it over with.”
Heston, who went 7-0 with a 4.17 ERA, is in the same boat at Harris. The junior college-transfer has to think about going pro, or returning for his senior year with the Pirates.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Heston said. “I just have to think about what I want to do.”
The hard-throwing right-hander, who fanned 88 batters and was an All-C-USA First Team pick, was driving home to Florida when he got the news that he had been selected by the Giants.
“It was exciting,” Heston said. “It’s pretty cool to be drafted.”
Heston said he was pretty pleased in his first year with the Pirates.
“I threw well early and got tired late,” Heston said. “There’s definitely room for improvement. Overall, it was a good season and I’m really happy with how the team did.”
The C-USA Newcomer of the Year said that when he’s thinking about his future, the thought of being in the same rotation once again with Seth Maness, Brad Mincey and Kevin Brandt is intriguing.
“That definitely factors into things,” Heston said. “The fun I had this year was priceless. It would be nice to do it again.”
Also selected in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft were ECU signees Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels, Round 1, Pick No. 25 overall), Nick McBride (Texas Rangers, Round 5, Pick No. 154 overall), Walker Gourley (Pittsburgh Pirates, Round 13, Pick No. 385 overall) and John Wooten (San Diego Padres, Round 20, Pick No. 594 overall).
There is a chance a couple more Pirates will be selected. The 2009 MLB Draft continues today starting at 11:30 a.m. with round 31 and will continue until all 50 rounds are completed.