MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Having said goodbye to his West Virginia teammates, Sean Carley was off to catch a predawn flight out of Pittsburgh on Wednesday morning. He was bound for his hometown of Melbourne, Fla., where he’ll take in the MLB draft.
The junior right-hander, rated the No. 388 draft-eligible prospect by Baseball America, has his degree and said he’s ready to give pro ball a try. He also sent a farewell tweet: “Going to miss our fans, but I’ll always be a #Mountaineer.”
Where might the pitcher with the plus-fastball and the plus-plus-mullet land in the draft?
The draft begins Thursday with the first two rounds and compensation picks, before Friday brings rounds 3 through 10. Carley projects that Saturday—with its rapid-fire rounds of 11 through 40—is “going to be a big day, because that’s where I see my abilities placing me.”
Carley is being represented by former Cubs pitcher Jim Bullinger of Meister Sports Management, the same agent advising fellow Mountaineers pitcher Harrison Musgrave, who’s also expected to sign. Both players agreed to drug screens and psychological testing that major league clubs typically administer to top prospects.
Though Carley missed the 2012 season at Air Force with Tommy John surgery and sat out 2013 under NCAA transfer rules at West Virginia, the Padres used a 34th-round pick on him last June. He gave only modest consideration to signing.
“They spat a dollar figure at me and I spat one back and they tried to meet in the middle,” he said. “But the way it worked out with Coach Mazey believing in me and offering a scholarship, I really wanted to play for him and compete in the Big 12.
“I couldn’t be more grateful to Coach Mazey for the opportunity to play for this program in a great conference.”
Carley went 5-3 with a 2.95 ERA for WVU, spending the season’s first half as the No. 2 starter before assuming the closer’s role in mid-April.
Two weeks later when Carley closed out two victories in a series against Texas, the Mountaineers appeared NCAA tournament-bound. But he struggled during several late-inning losses as WVU dropped nine of its final 10 games and narrowly missed the field of 64.
Watching the Longhorns and three other Big 12 teams advance to super regionals hasn’t lessened the hurt.
“Especially when we were playing Texas, I felt like we were a better team than they were, and now they’re in a super regional,” Carley said. “You can’t help but feel disappointed. It stings a little, I won’t lie to you.
“For the guys coming back, though, it’s good experience to know they can compete at that level.”