Senior catcher returns for final season
The first week in June is an exciting time for most people around the country. The summer is fast approaching, with plans being made and plenty of fun to be had. For elite high school and college baseball players, it can be a time filled with anxiety, excitement and confusion.
Each June, Major League Baseball holds its First-Year Player Draft. The draft is open to high school seniors and collegiate players at least three years removed from high school.
Last year, Zach Wright was one of the players drafted from an ECU squad that finished 41-21 and included five other selections by MLB clubs. Wright was picked by the Philadelphia Phillies in the sixth round with the 211th pick overall. Being drafted in the top 10 rounds usually means it’s time for the pro ranks for any player. Wright didn’t shy away from expressing his opinion about being drafted and what ECU meant to him.
“I love East Carolina more than anything and I’ll always be a Pirate. Even if I did sign, I was still going to be a Pirate at heart and I would have been here for as many games as I could,” said Wright. He also acknowledged that, “Every kid wants to get drafted, especially by a good organization, especially the Phillies. They’re in the hunt for a championship every year and it was definitely a hard decision that weighed heavy on my heart.”
Wright was in a good negotiating situation because he had the option to sign or return to Greenville for his last year of eligibility. Wright decided to return to ECU once negotiations hit a stand still.
“I wanted to finish up my degree (business management). That was a big thing for me,” Wright said. “When things turned sour with the Phillies, I definitely knew it was a good idea to come back. Coach Godwin is a great coach and I feel like I could learn a lot more from him.”
Following the first day of official practice, it was clear that he had made the right decision. Anyone who followed the situation could realize the Phillies were attempting to get a discount on the players they chose from the college ranks, so coming back was most likely the smartest choice. Wright still has a chance to improve his skills and his draft stock for this June’s draft, as he will be eligible once again.
Expectations for this year will obviously be higher, as Wright said, “Everybody is expecting more.” He will have the support of Pirate Nation once again as he leads the team into the 2012 season. “I can’t wait to get out on the field on February 17,” he said excitedly after the first practice.
The next two weeks will be a bit different, even for the veterans on the team like Wright, as Godwin is serving his two-week suspension as part of ECU’s self-imposed response for a violation involving volunteer coaches and housing benefits. But Wright doesn’t feel like this will affect much on the field. “We’re a well-oiled machine. I think it is going to be very smooth,” he said.
Wright and the Pirates will begin their 2012 campaign on Feb. 17 at home against Milwaukee.
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