After the East Carolina baseball team’s historic run during the regular season and postseason, the biggest question remaining is: What comes next? The team has several players that were bright spots during the 2018-2019 season that are likely to make an impact during the upcoming season.
Regardless of losing seven players to the MLB, the ECU baseball team has several players that can step into the leadership roles that have been left vacant.
Primarily, pitcher/outfielder Alec Burleson was a huge part of last season's team. Burleson led the team in four categories, hits, batting average, doubles and multi-hit games with a .370 batting average, 23 doubles, 91 hits and 16 multi-run games during the 2019-2020 season.
Burleson was a sophomore last season and is likely to be drafted in the 2020-2021 MLB draft, especially with all of the notoriety he achieved nationwide.
Currently, Burleson is on the 26-man roster of the National Collegiate team USA baseball team, and is traveling with the team.
This is a true testament to his dual threat prowess, especially after being nominated for the 2019 John Olerud National Player-of-the-Year Award, which is for the best two-way player in the country.
Aside from his hitting, Burleson started on the mound nine times out of 24 total game he pitched in and with a 6-2 record, five saves and a 3.28 ERA. He holds the theoretical keys to the kingdom and has the opportunity to lead the Pirates on as well as off the field.
Burleson has also proven to be a leader in the classroom, boasting a 3.959 cumulative GPA and has been a 2018 AAC All-Academic Selection, as well as several other academic honors.
Another key piece in ECU’s success during the upcoming season, freshman infielder/pitcher Ryder Giles is bound to have an effect on the team in his coming years.
Another two-way player for the Pirates, Giles had a 3.71 era on the mound during his freshman year, along with 20 strikeouts and one win on the season.
Giles threw a career high of three strikeouts on June 3 against Campbell University in the NCAA Greenville Regional, and helped the Pirates advance into the next round of the regional.
Giles also had a .242 batting average last season, and had three RBIs in a game against the University of Houston on May 22.
He will be beginning his sophomore season for the Pirates in the spring, and shows promise to be the next great two-way player on the team, and a key component in the team as a whole.
Both Burleson and Giles will be crucial to ECU’s success next season, and both are likely to have a huge 2019-2020 season for ECU.
As Burleson leads the team during what will likely be his final season with ECU, Giles can watch and learn from him, as he will be the best candidate to fill Burleson’s shoes once he is inevitably drafted.