The Virginia Tech Hokies had another tough season on the diamond as they finished tied for last in the ACC and missed out on the ACC Tournament for the second-straight year, leading to a coaching change after the season with VT letting Pat Mason go and replacing him with Maryland's John Szefc.
However, there was definitely some talent on the Hokies' roster this season that caught the attention of MLB scouts including one Hokie who earned VT's highest draft selection in three years.
Virginia Tech pitcher Packy Naughton was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the ninth round (258th overall) in the 2017 MLB Draft. Naughton's ninth round selection is the highest for any Hokie since Mark Zagunis was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the third round (78th overall) of the 2014 MLB Draft.
Naughton was never able to meet his full potential while in Blacksburg with his best season coming as a freshman in 2015 in which he had a 2-1 record with a 4.91 ERA, 1 save, 35 strikeouts, and an opposing batting average of .252 in 20 games (5 starts).
This past season, Naughton lost his spot in the rotation after a very rough start to the season but jumped back in the rotation at the end of the season after pitching much better in the second half of the season including a strong start at the end of the season at Miami in which he went 5.2 innings only giving up 2 earned runs on 6 hits and 1 walk with 5 strikeouts.
Overall, Naughton finished the 2017 season with a 2-6 record in 17 games (7 starts) and 57.2 innings including 63 strikeouts (compared to 30 walks) and an opposing batting average of .333. Naughton's opposing batting average was definitely disappointing, but his strikeout rate of 9.83 strikeouts per nine innings is definitely promising and likely stood out to MLB scouts.
With Naughton being selected this high in the draft, it is just about certain that the Massachusetts native will leave the Hokies for professional baseball especially with Naughton being picked in the first 10 rounds where there are slot values for each pick which for Naughton is $147,400. Returning to VT would also bring the risk of injury into play along with how a senior baseball player usually doesn't have as much leverage in negotiations, leaving that player with less money.
Congrats to Packy Naughton on being selected in the ninth round of the 2017 MLB Draft.
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