The Swamp is a place where baseball is fun, and nothing is more fun than getting a chance to play professionally.
Five past and one future member of the SwampDogs will soon have that chance, as Nick Ernst, Daniel Martinez, Jack Conley, Trey Vickers, Zach Neff and Austin Edgette had their names called during the 2018 MLB Draft Wednesday.
Ernst was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 15th round out of Miami University in Ohio. The right-handed pitcher played for the SwampDogs last summer, going 3-1 with a 4.01 ERA in six starts. Ernst struck out 31 and walked just 11 in 33.2 innings of work as the SwampDogs claimed the first half east division title.
Martinez has not yet played for the SwampDogs but will be joining the team this summer from Riverside City College. A 21st round pick of the Oakland Athletics, Martinez tore it up for the Tigers this spring both as a hitter and a pitcher. At the plate, he hit .297 with 3 home runs and 23 RBIs. Profiling as a starting pitcher at the next level, Martinez also went 7-4 with a 2.51 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 89.2 innings on the mound.
Conley, a 27th round pick by the Philadelphia Phillies, spent the summer in Fayetteville in 2016. A student at NC State, Conley posted a .261 batting average with three home runs for the SwampDogs. This is actually the second time the catching prospect has been drafted following his selection by the Boston Red Sox in the 30th round in 2015.
The fifth SwampDog drafted this year, Vickers posted impressive numbers as an infielder throughout the summer of 2016. The Washington Nationals' 30th round pick, who just finished up his career at Wichita State, hit .320 in 37 games for Fayetteville.
The Minnesota Twins made Zach Neff the 20th pick in the 31st round of the draft, adding the Mississippi State product to their talent pool. The left-handed pitcher was an ace for the SwampDogs last summer, going 7-0 with two saves in six starts and six relief appearances. With a sparkling 1.45 ERA, Neff struck out 65 and walked just seven as he tossed 49.2 innings and won CPL Defensive Player of the Year.
Rounding out the SwampDogs' list of draftees is Austin Edgette. Selected by the San Francisco Giants in the 33rd round, Edgette just finished up his career at Bloomsburg University. The outfielder started 38 games for the SwampDogs in 2017, batting .308 and stealing nine bases.
The SwampDogs want to congratulate these former and future 'Dogs on their accomplishments and wish them all the best in their baseball pursuits. The next generation of professional talent will be at The Swamp all summer long!