Eight black college baseball players, five from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and three from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) were taken in last Wednesday’s 2017 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft. The draftees including the reigning MEAC player and pitcher of the year. Norfolk State, out of the MEAC, had two selections.
Demetrius Sims of MEAC champion Bethune-Cookman was the first to go off the boards going to the Miami Marlins in the 14th round. Sims was a first team all-MEAC selection at shortstop, helping the Wildcats win their 19th MEAC championship and advance to the first NCAA regional final in school and conference history. He was also a MEAC all-Tournament selection. Sims hit .323, was third in the league in hits with 72 and led the league with 7 triples.
Jackson State junior outfielder Bryce Brown was the next selection, going to the Tampa Bay Rams in the 15th round. The Walker, La. native, a first team all-SWAC pick, helped lead the Tigers’ to a conference best 38-17-1 (20-4 SWAC) record in 2017 in route to an East Division title. Brown led the Tigers in batting average (.374) on base percentage (.514). Brown led all SWAC hitters in on base percentage and ranked second overall in the conference in batting average.
Noah “Cutter” Dyals went in the 17th round to the Atlanta Braves. Dyals was named first team all-MEAC, coming out of the bullpen to help North Carolina A&T finish second in the MEAC Southern Division this past season. He was 6-0 this season with seven saves and an 0.50 ERA.
Aubrey McCarty of Florida A&M was named second team all-MEAC as a utility player this past season. He was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 26th round. McCarty was second in the MEAC with 51 RBIs and had a .485 slugging percentage.
Devin Hemmerich of Norfolk State is the reigning MEAC Pitcher of the Year and a first team all-MEAC selection taken later in the 26th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hemmerich, also named to the MEAC all-Tournament team, became Norfolk State’s first Div. I All-American, as named by Collegiate Baseball News, after breaking the school record in both career and single-season strikeouts. He led the MEAC with 118 strikeouts, in ERA (1.97), innings pitched (118) and wins (10).
Norfolk State’s Alex Mauricio is the reigning MEAC Player of the Year and a semifinalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year award. The pitcher and utility player helped the Spartans win their third straight MEAC Northern Division regular-season title and advance to the title round of the MEAC Championship. Mauricio was plucked by the New York Yankees in the 27th round. Mauricio hit .345 (9th), had a .539 slugging percentage (2nd) with 17 doubles (3rd). He was 4-4 on the mount.
Grambling State left-handed pitcher Tanner Raiburn was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 33rd round. Raiburn earned second team all-SWAC honors after starting a team high 13 games and going 4-2 with a 3.76 ERA.
Alabama State pitcher Austin Bizzle was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 40th round (1,186 overall). The Panama City, Fla. native was third in the SWAC in ERA (1.27), fourth in strikeouts (78), tied for fifth in saves with three and ranked sixth in the league with seven wins.