MLB Draft brings nervous time for Duke

Jun. 04, 2014 @ 08:13 AM

A few uneasy days in June are part of the deal as Duke baseball improves under coach Chris Pollard.

Major League Baseball holds its First-Year Player Draft Thursday-Saturday and, thanks to a strong recruiting class, Pollard and the Blue Devils could lose a player or two before they play college baseball.

“Obviously this is a nerve-wracking week,” Pollard said. “If you are signing the right kind of guys, this is a nerve-wracking week.”

The list starts with left-handed pitcher Chris McGrath from Atlanta. Durham’s own Baseball America has McGrath at No. 201 in its list of the top 500 prospects in the country. That includes high school and college players. McGrath could be selected as high as the third or fourth round on Friday.

The good news for Duke fans? Pollard said McGrath has given him every indication he’ll be playing college baseball.

Justin Bellinger has given Pollard similar indications and getting him to campus would be a big plus for Pollard and Duke. A corner infielder with a strong bat, Bellinger projects as a middle of the order guy who could produce big numbers for Duke over the next three seasons.

“He has the most raw power that I’ve ever seen in a high school player,” Pollard said.

The third incoming freshman that pro scouts have interest in is speedy centerfielder Evan Dougherty from Florida. Pollard said Dougherty projects as a top of the order, on-base guy who is strong defensively in centerfield.  

Neither Bellinger or Dougherty were listed by Baseball America among its top 500 prospects. But that won’t stop a team from taking them and making an offer that could turn their heads away from Durham.

After winning 16 ACC games, the most in two decades, Duke is primed for even bigger baseball seasons over the next few years. Getting these three players to delay pro careers for a few years would go a long way toward helping Pollard’s cause.