Three of the area's best baseball players are looking forward to the coming week, as the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft commences Monday.
Bunker Hill's Jeremy Null, Hickory's Tyler Poole and Lenoir-Rhyne's Brian Dice are all potential picks in this year's draft, which is televised on the MLB Network starting Monday.
Null, a 6-foot-7-inch pitcher, stiffled offenses with a strong early 90s fastball. He used his senior season to further develop his pitching by adding breaking pitches to his repertoire.
Null and the Bears repeated as CVAC regular season and tournament champions this season. Over his junior and senior seasons, the Bears finished with an incredible 55-3 record.
In his stellar junior season, Null finishing with a 8-1 record and a 0.24 ERA. He set school records for shutouts (six), three games of 15 or more strikeouts and two earned runs all season.
If he is drafted, Null becomes the second Bunker Hill player in history to have that honor behind Jamon Deal in 1988. Deal went on to play college baseball at UNC-Asheville.
“I feel nothing, but excitement going into the draft,” Null said. “I have a great opportunity in front of me, but I also have a very respectable college baseball career waiting on me if the draft doesn’t present a good position for me.”
Poole is a two-sport athlete who is committed to Coastal Carolina next season to play basketball and baseball. The 6-7, 200-pound senior guided the Red Tornadoes to a 26-4 record in basketball and a 17-11 record in baseball. Both squads made deep runs into the NCHSAA playoffs.
One of Poole's strongest performances from the mound this season came in March, when he threw a complete game two-hitter against St. Stephens.
"Right now, I don't think it is likely that I will drafted in the high rounds," Poole said. "I've talked with my parents and I feel like it is in my best interest that I go to college, unless a big number pops up. It probably won't happen, but it might. It would be an honor to be drafted. I've worked really hard at becoming the best pitcher I can be."
Dice drove in a team-high 36 RBIs and scored 41 runs. He was second on the team in hits (53) and home runs (six), and third in doubles (11). The Bears finished the season with a 13-34 record.
Defensively, Dice was solid. He held a .992 fielding percentage, forced six double plays and threw out runners that were trying to steal 23 times.
"I'm not expecting anything to happen," Dice said. "If it does, it does. I will just keep playing through the rest of the summer and try to enjoy the game."