Bellinger set to bring power bat to Duke

Jun. 06, 2014 @ 05:54 PM

As the Major League Baseball Draft wound into the seventh round on Friday, Justin Bellinger said it’s more and more certain where he’ll be on June 29.

Duke University.

A power-hitting prospect from Weston, Mass., Bellinger told The Herald-Sun that professional teams sought a commitment that he wouldn’t go to college before using a high draft pick on him.

Bellinger, who has signed to play for Duke, wouldn’t go there.

“For the top rounds they want a guarantee that you will sign,” the 6-6, 237-pound Bellinger said. “I’ve been leaning heavily toward Duke. For the value of a Duke education, they would have to be at a huge number. We’re past that now, so I will be at Duke on the 29th.”

Signing bonus slot values for picks after the seventh round start around $160,000 and drop with each pick. Bonus slot values dropped below the $1 million level during the second round.

Unless a Major League team selects Bellinger and goes significantly over that slot value, he’ll enroll in summer school at Duke and play for the Blue Devils next spring.

He’s confident Duke head coach Chris Pollard and his staff will keep him on a development path toward a professional career.

“The training and coaching I’m looking forward to at Duke will help me a lot,” Bellinger said. “That’s one of the reasons why I chose Duke. After three or four years, I’ll be ready for pro baseball at that time, too.”

Bellinger spoke by phone from his family’s new home in Southport, south of Wilmington along the coast in Brunswick County. They moved there this week.

He’ll be playing for the Wilmington Sharks of the Coastal Plains League this month before heading to Duke. He plans to study Visual Arts.

Pollard, who just completed his second season at Duke, said Bellinger has more raw power than any high school prospect he’s ever seen. That fact has the coach nervous pro baseball will entice Bellinger before his Duke career begins.

But as the rounds ticked by on Friday, Bellinger’s insistence to teams that he wanted to play college baseball for the Blue Devils appeared to scare them off.