Fleury Begins Pro Career

Mark Fleury has signed with the Cincinnati Reds, who drafted him in the 4th round. Inside Carolina caught up with the Tar Heel catcher before he departed for Montana to start his professional career with the Billings Mustangs.

How did you find out you were drafted?
"We had a couple of guys there early who needed to throw bullpen, so I just came down there early and was hanging out. I was sitting back there in the equipment room and came outside and was talking with Coach Forbes for a little bit -- if I heard anything, what I was thinking and what he was thinking. Then I walked back to the locker room and I did not even know the second day [of the draft] had started yet and Nate Yarbrough - our equipment guy - stated that, 'Hey, I just heard your name.' I replied, 'Shut up Nate," just trying to mess around with him. He said, 'You're Mark Fluery - they just picked you!"

What was your reaction when you found out you were drafted by the Reds?
"I was excited. I was excited and really happy and it was fun. It meant a lot to me that my teammates where there and I could share that with them."

How'd you transition from coming back from the College World Series to signing with the Reds?
"I came back and had to wind down from all that - I don't know, traveling I guess. I hung out in Chapel Hill for a couple of days. I started getting my stuff packed up in my apartment and cleaning out the locker room and saying goodbye to the guys for summer. I called [the Reds] and we worked something out and on my way back home I stopped in Charlotte and signed the papers."

What advantages do you see signing early as compared to waiting until the deadline at August 17th?
"I want to get back out there and play. That is the most important thing for me. I don't want to sit around. I went out and watched some baseball games the past couple days - I went out and watched the summer league games in East Cobb - and I am itching to get back out on the field."

What are the Reds' plans for you.
"I will be going to short season in Billings, Montana. That is exciting and it will be a new experience. I have never been to that part of the country and I will get to travel there and see the sights if I ever have the time."

How do you feel that your experience at the University of North Carolina prepared you for your professional baseball career?
"I just think from day one when I stepped foot on campus that everyday I got better. That is a tribute to how hard our coaches work with us and not only develop us as baseball players but as people. That is the down side - I get to live my dream and start that but I have to close the book on playing Carolina Baseball. That is the hardest part because I love it - I love playing it and it was the best three years of my life. I sent an e-mail to all of the guys the other day thanking them for everything and letting them know that I will be around watching them. For a first class education and a first class facility, I can see why Carolina is going to be just fine."

What is the highlight of your college career?
"Wow, that is tough. It is tough to top the Miami walk-off win. My home run against Wilmington last year in the regionals in Cary... the highlight of my college career has to be catching Alex White's one hitter against Miami that Friday night game. Being a part of that was unbelievable."

What goals do you have for your professional career?
"Get better and work hard. Obviously I want to play in the Major Leagues. I want to work hard and play the game hard and see what happens."

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