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For North Johnston High senior Trey Whitley, Wednesday was a game of hurry up and wait.
After learning that his evaluation projected him to go between rounds 20 and 30 in the third day of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Whitley had to spend a couple of agonizing hours waiting for “the call.” The Baltimore Orioles finally made it, selecting the 6-foot-2, 180-pound outfielder with the 11th pick of the 28th round or 835th overall pick.
“I knew that the highest I had been evaluated was 20th round so I knew it was going to be somewhere in the 20s,” said Whitley. “I wish it had been a little bit higher but I was fine where I got picked at because I knew it was going to be somewhere around that time.”
Whitley, who had just begun his third season with the Wilson Post 13 American Legion baseball team, said that he hopes to sign with the American League organization next week.
Whitley, a three-sport standout at North Johnston, had planned on attending Wake Technical Community College to play baseball for a year and enhance his chances of being drafted in the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Whitley said that he was offered a baseball scholarship by UNC Pembroke of the NCAA Division II ranks as well as Wake Tech. Because he wouldn’t be eligible for the draft again until 2021 if he went to a four-year college, he was planning to go to Wake Tech. However, after attending workouts in Atlanta and Philadelphia, realized that he might not have to wait — and that he was ready to become a professional baseball player.
“It was the first time I flew and have been on my own. It was fine and a great experience,” he said. “I feel like I’m ready for the challenge.”
Whitley said that he was contacted by representatives from the San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies as well as the Orioles. He said that the Orioles offered him more money initially as well as paying for his college education if his pro baseball career ends. The Padres ultimately matched the $125,000 signing bonus offer but skipped Whitley in the 28th round and the Orioles snapped him up four picks later.
Whitley said he was recruited by several Div. I colleges in football, including East Carolina and N.C. State, but not offered a scholarship once they learned he was either going to play baseball in college or professionally. Now he’s excited to be able to focus on his favorite sport.
“Yes, baseball’s been my favorite sport since I was little. I enjoyed football as something to keep me in shape,” Whitley said.
Whitley, who said he thinks he may be the first player from North Johnston to be drafted and sign with a major league team, is excited to finally realize his dream. He credited Wilson attorney and youth baseball coach Earl Taylor with helping him earn the attention of professional scouts. Whitley was a Post 13 teammate of several of Taylor’s former players with the youth travel team, the Wilson Pelicans, including former ECU outfielder Dwanya Williams-Sutton, who was drafted in the fifth round by the Padres on Tuesday, and D.J. Daniels, currently in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
Whitley said he expects to playing with the Orioles’ Gulf Coast League team within a couple of weeks.