MLB Draft Preview

A few select Wolfpack players are about to realize their dreams of playing professional baseball. Pack Pride's Austin Johnson takes a look at who might hear their name called during the MLB's amateur draft over the next two days.

Andrew Brackman

No player in the draft has fallen faster than Brackman, who went from a sure-fire top-10 to borderline first-rounder in three weeks. The right-hander didn't pitch the last weekend of the regular season or any in the postseason, chalking the missed time up to a sore arm.

"I've had some dead-arm at times," Brackman said.

That diagnosis has severely curbed team's enthusiasm for the former two-sport star. His late-season fade validated some critics concerns about his durability, and his current condition raises concerns about his health. There's even some speculation that Brackman might require Tommy John surgery.

Another point against him for many teams is his relationship with baseball super-agent Scott Boras. Boras is known for holding out and even turning down lucrative contracts and re-entering the draft. The big-money that Brackman and his agent are demanding will probably scare away some of the small market teams.

Despite all the problems, Brackman is still capable of dialing it up to the high 90s with his fastball. Potential alone will get him drafted in the first round or supplemental first round.

"This guy is 6'11' and 240 pounds and throws 99 miles an hour," Elliot Avent said. "The thing that all GMs are shocked about when they come see him and see his body work the way it does – they can't believe it from a 6'11' guy. They have to take a chance on that."

Projection: Pick 25-35

Eryk McConnell

The junior thrived in his first year as NC State's closer, registering 11 saves with a minuscule 1.72 ERA. He also showed the ability to be effective in extending outings and on back-to-back days. McConnell's outstanding junior season has put him in ideal position going into the draft - the right-hander still has the option of returning to college for his senior year. If McConnell doesn't go as high as he expects or his bonus demands aren't met, he could still be in an NC State uniform next season.

"It's definitely good to have a year like I had," McConnell said. "It just gives you a little extra leverage."

With a low-to-mid 90s fastball and an excellent approach on the mound, McConnell will join the ever growing line of Wolfpack closers who graduated to the professional ranks.

"I've gotten a couple of calls a day, [scouts] just want to know what I'm thinking and where I stand," McConnell said. "I just tell them I want to go as high as possible."

Projection: Rounds 3-8

Caleb Mangum

Another position at which the Wolfpack seems to be pumping out professional ballplayers, Mangum recovered from an early-season injury to become the Pack's most consistent hitter. A late-season slump brought down his overall numbers, as he hit .285 with eight home runs and a team-high 48 RBIs.

"At this point I'm more anxious than anything," Mangum said. "I have no idea where I'll go. The only person who might have been able to help answer that is an adviser and I decided not to get one so we'll just have to wait and see."

The senior catcher can hit for average, a little power, and has a good approach at the plate. He's also a great defensive catcher, smothering balls in the dirt and working well with his pitchers. The only negative is his throwing arm, which rates slightly below average.

Projection: Rounds 10-15

Ryan Pond

The junior right-fielder can certainly hit, and he's got a cannon for an arm, but that's about where the tools end. And while Pond's numbers over his NC State career have been good, they haven't been spectacular. As a junior, Pond hit .326 with seven homers and 41 RBIs. There's a decent chance he'll be drafted, but it seems likely he'll return for his senior year in an attempt to move up the draft boards next season.

Projection: Rounds 20-undrafted

Ramon Corona

A nasty early-season slump really hurt the junior infielder's draft hopes, but a late season surge might have put him back on the radar. Corona finished the year batting .293, with three home runs and 39 RBIs. It's possible he could be taken late, but expect to see him back with the Pack next season.

Projection: Rounds 20-undrafted

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