06/13/17 — MLB DRAFT: Trio of UMO players hoping to hear their names called

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MLB DRAFT: Trio of UMO players hoping to hear their names called

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 13, 2017 7:13 AM


MOUNT OLIVE -- Flashback.

It's a cool Saturday afternoon at Scarborough Field.

Armed with radar guns, Major League Baseball scouts fill every seat in front of the University of Mount Olive press box for the Trojans' season-opening game against Lander.

They don't need rosters.

They're on campus through word of mouth.

The Trojans have two thoroughbreds -- pitchers Austin Hutchison and Bruce Zimmerman -- ready to command the clay-covered cliff and launch their respective 2017 campaigns. Scouts wait to scribble down the speed and the rate at which the pearl pops the catcher's glove on each throw.

A third thoroughbred, shortstop Ricky Surum, is eager to display his slick-fielding prowess and laser-like throws to first base.

Fast forward 41/2 months later.

It's less than five hours from opening day of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft.

"I thought we had lost Hutch and Zimmerman last year because they were on everybody's radar. Ricky, too," UMO head coach Carl Lancaster said.

The draft officially started Monday evening with first- and second-round selections along with two "competitive balance rounds." It will continue for 40 rounds over a three-day period with rounds three through 10 scheduled for today via conference calls with teams.

The draft concludes Wednesday.

Teams are given four minutes to make their picks in the first 10 rounds. The remainder of the draft has selections without time delays.

"It's going to be an interesting two days," said Lancaster, who has produced 36 draft picks since 1987. "We'll have to sit back, wait and see. There's talk that Zimmerman and Ricky could go inside the top 10 rounds, and maybe Hutch outside the top 10.

"(Drew) Ellis has been getting looks from some ballclubs."

Zimmerman earned second-team all-Southeast Region honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), Division 2 Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) and National College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).

The senior matched the single-season strikeout record (129) set by UMO alum and San Diego Padres reliever Carter Capps.

Surum drew second-team all-Southeast Region accolades from the ABCA and D2CCA at shortstop. NCBWA named him to the honorable mention list.

An Atlanta native, Surum batted .372 with 61 RBI, 12 home runs and committed just 10 errors in 502 innings of action. He was the lone Trojan to start in all 58 games.

A junior, Ellis cranked out a team-high 19 homers and drove in 56 runs -- second-best only to Surum. He received all-Southeast Region nods from the D2CCA (first team) and NCBWA (second team) at first base.

Hutchison endured an injury during the conference tournament and struggled in the regional. He collected plenty of postseason honors -- Conference Carolinas and Southeast Region pitcher-of-the-year, first-team A-A pick by NCBWA and D2CCA and a third-team A-A selection by ABCA/Rawlings.

His line -- 12-1 record, sterling 1.28 earned run average (ERA), 97 strikeouts in 94 innings, seven complete games and five shutouts. He equaled the single-season record for complete games (7) also held by Chad Holland (1996), Jon Morgan (1999), Joe Perkins (2000) and Alex Regan (2013).

"He had a great year," Lancaster said.

Zack Mozingo emerged as the "go-to" guy from the bullpen and filed a single-season program-record 13 saves, breaking the previous mark (8) set by Curtis Whitley in 1997. The hard-nosed righty posted a 4-0 record and 1.22 ERA with 55 strikeouts in 22 innings of work.

"Mozingo, I can't get a good feel on him (from the scouts)," Lancaster said of the 23-year-old Goldsboro native who underwent Tommy John surgery while at Pitt Community College.

"There's no doubt his numbers were as good as anybody's. He's a fifth-year guy and that turns some people off for some reason. It has nothing to do with his ability. I think he will get a chance to pitch somewhere, maybe in the Independent League."

There's one more.

Kodi Whitley.

The right-hander, who also had Tommy John surgery and missed two seasons, is pitching -- at his own pace -- with the Fuquay-Varina Twins.

"He's doing what works better for him with all of his rehab stuff," Lancaster said. "He could sign as a free agent toward the end of the summer. If not, we will gladly welcome him back.

"Yeah, it's going to be a fun week for these boys. A bad one for me."