06/15/17 — MLB DRAFT: Five UMO players headed to professional ranks

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MLB DRAFT: Five UMO players headed to professional ranks

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 15, 2017 7:01 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Pardon Carl Lancaster if he seems a little preoccupied over the next few days.

He has a daunting chore ahead.

Four University of Mount Olive seniors and a redshirt junior heard their name called in the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The five picks, led by fifth-round selection Bruce Zimmermann, tied the single-season school record set by the 2008 squad that emerged as the Division II College World Series champion.

"They've worked hard. They're good kids. Every one of them. (We're) thankful they're getting to opportunity to play," said Lancaster, who is in Greensboro for the Powerade State Games of North Carolina baseball tournament, which began this morning.

"It just means you've got to work harder (now). Trying to find some replacements, but haven't found anything yet."

Zimmermann, the third-highest draft pick in UMO history, was chosen by the Atlanta Braves after a 9-1 campaign on the mound. The left-hander and teammate Ricky Surum worked out for the Braves this past weekend.

Surum, a flashy shortstop, went in the 16th round to the New York Yankees. Eastern Wayne alum Zack Mozingo earned a nod from Tampa Bay in the 24th round.

Austin Hutchison was picked by Seattle in the 26th round. Kodi Whitley, who continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery, is a 27th-round choice by St. Louis.

"Zimmerman...we felt like he could go in the top 10 (rounds)," Lancaster said. "We didn't know exactly where he'd fall. He's excited. We're excited. I haven't talked with him today. They made a real good offer that I'm pretty sure he's going to take.

"Ricky is leaving tomorrow to go down to Tampa. They're all excited to get on with the next phase of their life."

The Trojans lost one recruit in the draft -- Hartford Community College right-hander Will Reed. Pittsburgh selected him in the 20th round as the 598th pick overall.

"That hurt," said Lancaster, who has coached a total of 41 draft selections -- 35 during the program's Division II era.

Recent North Lenoir grad Reed Parris has signed a national letter-of-intent to play at UMO next spring. The right-hander secured the Eastern Carolina 2-A Conference pitcher-of-the-year award after he helped the Hawks post a 21-7 ledger that included the ECC regular-season crown.

Carter Capps, also a North Lenior alum, is the highest draft pick in UMO history. The catcher-turned-pitcher helped guide the Trojans to a third-place finish in the 2011 CWS in Cary. He was drafted in the third round by Seattle.

The second-highest draft pick to wear a Trojan uniform is Goldsboro native Curtis Whitley, who got selected by the Chicago White Sox in the fourth round in 1997.

"I think it's a really proud day for our program and is a testament for the amount of work our players put in to get better," UMO assistant coach Rob Watt said. "We demand a lot from our players and there's no better feeling than to see them get an opportunity to keep playing. It's a dream come true for these guys.

"It just tells you how good the 2017 team really was. They all did whatever they could to help us win and took care of their college commitment, which is a lot to ask of some of the guys when you know the thought of playing professionally depends on your performance."

The Trojans filed a 48-10 ledger that included the Conference Carolinas regular-season and tournament titles, and an eighth consecutive appearance in the Southeast Regional.

More than 1,200 players were selected in this year's draft, a 40-round venture that took three days to complete.