The three-day, 40-round marathon that is the MLB Draft finally came to an end Saturday evening–with three more Tar Heels finding out their next destinations.
Junior relievers Zach Rice and Spencer Trayner–as well as sophomore infielder Ryder Ryan–joined teammates Zac Gallen, Tyler Ramirez and AJ Bogucki in receiving the opportunity to enter the professional ranks.
A 6-foot-2 lefty with a deceptive delivery, Rice was selected in the 18th round (529th overall) by the Atlanta Braves.
The Suffolk, Virginia native made 64 career appearances in relief–including 34 in his freshman season–but saw his playing time decrease each year as he struggled to find consistency with his pitch command.
In 2016, he pitched a total of just 3.2 innings and allowed 11 of the 22 batters he faced to reach base. By the end of the season, though, he was no longer on the team’s roster–which is likely the reason why UNC has not recognized Rice’s selection.
Next to be chosen was Trayner, a 6-foot righty out of Tampa, Florida.
The St. Louis Cardinals took him in the 25th round (766th overall), making him their second Tar Heel pitcher selected this year after choosing Gallen in the third round.
A bullpen workhorse for each of his three seasons in Chapel Hill, Trayner has a total of 85 relief appearances with a career ERA of 2.67.
The MLB rulebook currently holds that a player may sign with a pro team straight out of high school, but must attend college for at least three years before becoming draft-eligible again.
Despite being a sophomore, Ryder Ryan was eligible by virtue of being 21-years-old before the start of the draft–one of the handful of different exceptions to the rule.
When the Cleveland Indians drafted Ryan in the 30th round (902nd overall), it marked the second time the organization has picked him.
A once highly-touted recruit, Ryan was a 40th-round choice by the Indians in 2014 coming out of North Mecklenburg High School–where he hit .536 with six home runs in his senior year.
Since arriving at UNC, however, he’s seen the field in just 33 games–making only six starts as a fill-in at catcher and first base. In that time, he tallied just eight hits across 40 at-bats.
Each of the six Tar Heel draftees can now negotiate a contract with the club that drafted them–or make the decision to return to school and play out their remaining eligibility.