A trio of Western Carolina juniors and senior right-hander Corey Martin were selected on the second day of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. Nick Liles (7th round), Chris Masters (11th round) and Brent Greer (14th round) were joined by Martin (27th round) through the first 30 rounds of the ’09 draft.
A combined 22 players from the Southern Conference have been taken, including the league-best four from Western in the opening 30 rounds. Liles was also the second player from the Southern Conference taken, two rounds after Elon’s Chase Austin who was the top SoCon pick in the fifth round with the 158th overall pick by the Florida Marlins.
Liles, who was tabbed by the San Francisco Giants with the 207th overall selection, is Western Carolina’s highest draft pick since Eric Johnson was taken in the third round of the 1999 draft with the 107th overall pick
Martin is the lone selection for WCU through the first 30 rounds that has exhausted his collegiate eligibility.
Below is information about each Catamount selected in the draft:
Nick Liles – 7th Round, 207th Pick – San Francisco Giants:
Liles was originally drafted by the Giants out of high school in the 2006 MLB Draft, selected in the 29th round with the 866th overall pick. He is just the second Catamount ever selected by the West Coast ball club, joining Kevin Bellomo (56th round, 1406th pick in 1991).
A native of Laurinburg, N.C., Liles has started 172 of the 173 games in which he has worn the purple and gold, only missing a three of his possible 176 career outings. He has hit .350 through his first three seasons including a career-best .367 (95-of-259) last year. He has 52 career doubles, legging out a career-high and team-best tying 22 a season ago, with four triples and 14 home runs.
As a sophomore, Liles was named second team All-Southern Conference, prompting the league coaches to name him to the preseason honorary squad in 2009. A position change, moving from second base to centerfield, may have prevented Liles from earning all-conference accolades a second-straight season despite solid numbers in ’09.
Liles received a great deal of attention from Major League scouts while playing in the prestigious Cape Cod League in the summer of 2008, especially when selected as the starting second baseman for the East Division in the 2008 Cape Cod League All-Star game.
He ended his junior season ranked on several school career record book categories: tied for eighth in school history with 51 stolen bases; ninth in career hits with 264; and tied for ninth all-time with 52 career doubles.
Chris Masters – 11th Round, 328th Pick – Atlanta Braves:
Masters becomes the fifth Catamount baseball player drafted by Atlanta, and the first since Ryan Basner was selected in the seventh round of the 2003 draft by the Braves organization. Charles Thomas was drafted in the 2000 MLB draft and became the only Catamount to play in the majors for the same team which drafted him, making his debut on June 23, 2004.
Used primarily as a reliever with an occasional mid-week start through his first two seasons, the Marietta, Ga., native made the transition to the weekend starting role as a junior. Masters responded with a 6-2 overall record, striking out a career-best 99 batters – averaging nearly six K’s per appearance. He holds a career ERA of 4.54 through 206 innings pitched with opponents only hitting .240 against the hard-throwing left-hander through is career.
Tabbed as one of the top eight pitchers in the state of Georgia out of high school, Masters was selected to go to Turner Field for the Braves 400 Club, which is an organization that honors the top 18 metro Atlanta high school baseball all-stars.
Masters finished his junior season with 241 career strikeouts to already rank sixth all-time in WCU’s record book. Through his first three seasons, he has earned six Southern Conference Pitcher of the Week accolades – the most of any one Catamount pitcher in school history and more than twice the number of Clark Maxwell (1994-97) who earned three weekly nods and, coincidently, is the Catamounts’ all-time leader in career strikeouts.
Brent Greer – 14th Round, 426th Pick – Arizona Diamondbacks:
Greer is just the second Catamount player ever selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks, joining former WCU standout Todd Buchanan who was taken in the 13th round of the 2003 draft.
A .356 career hitter through his first three seasons, Greer set a WCU school-record with 102 base hits last, surpassing the late Keith LeClair (1988) and Kevin Bellomo (1991) who each had 101. He ranked third in the Southern Conference in 2009 with a career-best .420 batting average and eighth with a .426 on-base percentage in earning first team All-Southern Conference accolades at shortstop. He also garnered third team All-American honors from Ping! Baseball and an All-State nod.
The Manassas, Va., native has recorded 48 doubles through his junior season to rank 12th in school history, while also legging out four triples and 18 round-trippers. He has started 152 of the 155 career games in which he played for WCU.
Corey Martin – 27th Round, 830th Pick – Chicago Cubs:
Martin is the first Catamount player to be drafted by the Chicago Cubs organization, joining three others which signed with the club all-time. He impressed scouts in his final season on the college diamond by consistently hitting 90+ on the radar gun, while also limiting opponents to a career-best .283 batting average as a starter.
A converted reliever during his sophomore season, Martin solidified the Catamounts weekend pitching rotation in his final three seasons. He won 14 games for WCU, including a career-best seven during his senior season (7-4). The right-handed hurler from Yadkinville, N.C., finished his collegiate career with 153 strikeouts through his 70 career appearances.
Martin garnered his first career Southern Conference Pitcher of the Week accolade in mid-April last season after throwing nine innings in two appearances, including a career-high eight in a win over Georgia Southern where he limited the potent Eagle offense to one unearned run on just six base hits.
Additional WCU Draft Notes:
Western Carolina has had three players taken inside the first 100 picks all time, headlined by Rick Adair with the 53rd pick of the third round by the Seattle Mariners in the 1979 draft – WCU’s highest all-time … Brad Tweedie (3rd round, 92nd pick by Cincinnati Reds in 1993) and Jason Beverlin (4th round, 93rd pick by Oakland Athletics in 1994);
It was the third-straight year – and 11th time since 1977 – that Western Carolina had multiple picks in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.