BUIES CREEK — The Tampa Bay Rays picked Seth Johnson 40th overall, the Houston Astros selected both Matthew Barefoot and Michael Horrell, and the Chicago White Sox tagged Tyson Messer to highlight four Campbell University Fighting Camels picked during the 2019 MLB Draft on June 3-5.
The four Fighting Camels drafted surpassed the previous school record of three Campbell baseball draftees in 2015. Two Camels have been picked eight times, most recently Matt Marksberry (15th round, Atlanta Braves) and Ben McQuown (30th round, Oakland Athletics) in 2013.
The four draftees bring Campbell’s all-time draft total to 58, while 13 of them have been drafted since 2009. Additionally, since 2009, eight pitchers and five position players have been taken in the draft.
Seth Johnson (Tampa Bay Rays: Round 1, Pick 40)
Johnson became the highest draft pick in Campbell baseball history with his 40th overall selection to the Rays. The previous highest pick was catcher John Posey, who went 44th in Round 2 of the 1986 MLB Draft.
A native of Concord, N.C., Johnson entered the 2019 season as a highly touted MLB prospect, receiving a No.-43 ranking on Perfect Game’s Top 100 College Prospects list that was released in December of 2018. He appeared as high as 26th on MLB Pipeline’s mock drafts that were released just weeks before the draft.
The Fighting Camel right-hander made 14 appearances, including 11 starts. Johnson owned a 3-3 record on the campaign, racking up 85 strikeouts across 66.1 innings. He was named the Big South’s Co-Starting Pitcher of the Week on March 11 after dealing five no-hit, shutout innings at William & May on March 9. He struck out the side twice at W&M, once in the second and once in the fifth, to finish the day with eight strikeouts.
A transfer from Louisburg College in Louisburg, N.C., Johnson’s lone season at Campbell was his first as only a pitcher as he played infield and occasionally pitched for two seasons under head coach Blake Herring, who played at Campbell from 2006-07. Johnson made five pitching appearances during his sophomore season at Louisburg, striking out 11 batters with no walks over six innings. He batted .254 for his junior college career with nine home runs, 20 doubles and 42 hits.
Matthew Barefoot (Houston Astros: Round 6, Pick 196)
Barefoot, a three-time All-Big South recipient saw his name come off the board in the sixth round. He was named first team all-conference in 2019 after finishing the regular season as Campbell’s leader in slugging percentage (.574), runs scored (49), home runs (12), RBI (44) and hit by pitches (12). He finished his redshirt-junior season with a .311 batting average, .407 on-base percentage and .570 slugging percentage, blasting 14 home runs with 48 RBI. He ranked fourth in the conference in slugging percentage and tied for third in home runs.
Barefoot was named the Big South Player of the Week on March 25 after going 10-for-22 (.455) across Campbell’s five games that week. He was also named to the Big South Championship All-Tournament Team and was selected to the NCAA Greenville Regional All-Regional Team.
The Dunn, N.C., native finished his career in the top-10 of nine Campbell baseball leader boards: at-bats (679, 9th), runs (159, T-5th), hits (228, 9th), stolen bases (65, 4th), doubles (53, 5th), home runs (30, T-7th), total bases (383, 5th), slugging percentage (.564, 10th) and hit by pitches (41, 3rd). A mainstay in the Campbell outfield, Barefoot made 164 career starts as an outfielder, including 134 as the leftfielder.
Tyson Messer (Chicago White Sox: Round 9, Pick 260)
Messer, who finished his four-year career fourth all-time in saves with 14, was taken off the board in the ninth round. With a 10.15 strikeouts per nine innings pitched average, Messer became just the third Campbell pitcher to finish his career with an average about 10.00 (Jack Ledford, 1989-91, 10.45; Aaron Miller, 1995-97, 11.75).
In 2019, Messer allowed just nine hits over 17 innings, limiting opponents to a .158 batting average. Big South opponents batted .087 against Messer as they collected just two hits against him. The Harnett Central High School product struck out five over two innings at No. 17 NC State on May 7 to earn the save.
As a junior, Messer picked up Second Team All-Big South honors. Across 27 relief appearances, the Lillington, N.C. native led the league with eight saves while finishing out 16 games for the Camels. Against Big South competition, Messer boasted a 1.74 earned run average while holding opponents to a .118 batting clip.
Michael Horrell (Houston Astros, Round 30, Pick 916)
The 2019 Big South Pitcher of the Year, Horrell joined Barefoot as the second Fighting Camel to be selected by the Houston Astros. He finished his four-year career fourth all-time in ERA (3.15), fifth in wins (21), sixth in innings pitched (248.2) and eighth in strikeouts (185).
Horrell became the second consecutive Camel to claim Big South Pitcher of the Year honors, and he was the third student-athlete in program history to earn the league’s top pitching honor (Allan Winans, 2018; Ryan Thompson, 2013).
The Ledford High School product helped lead Campbell to a 5-4 win over NC State at the Greenville Regional last weekend, striking out a career-high 11 batters while issuing no walks over seven innings. He was one of two pitchers named to the Greenville Regional All-Regional Team, joining ECU’s Jake Agnos, who was taken in the fourth round by the New York Yankees.
The right-hander from Winston-Salem finished his senior season with 85 strikeouts while issuing just 13 walks for a 6.54 strikeout-to-walk ratio, the 11th-best mark in the nation. He owned the league’s lowest WHIP at 1.03, a total that also ranked 45th nationally. In conference play, he owned a 2.35 ERA, the second best in the league and he tied for the conference lead in wins with eight.
The senior owned a 6-0 record at home in his final season at Jim Perry Stadium, boasting a minuscule 0.83 ERA. After fanning 10 batters with two walks in seven innings at Gardner-Webb on April 6, Horrell was named the Big South Pitcher of the Week on April 8.
13 Fighting Camels have been drafted since 2009:
Seth Johnson (First round, Tampa Bay Rays, 2019)
Matthew Barefoot (Sixth round, Houston Astros, 2019)
Tyson Messer (Ninth round, Chicago White Sox, 2019)
Michael Horrell (30th round, Houston Astros, 2019)
Alan Winans (17th round, New York Mets, 2018)
Heath Bowers (24th round, Oakland Athletics, 2015)
Steven Leonard (23rd round, Colorado Rockies, 2015)
Cedric Mullins (13th round, Baltimore Orioles, 2015)
Ryan Thompson (23rd round, Houston Astros, 2014)
Matt Marksberry (15th round, Atlanta Braves, 2013)
Ben McQuown (30th round, Oakland Athletics, 2013)
Jake Smith (48th round, San Francisco Giants, 2011)
Ryan Hamme (31st round, Chicago White Sox, 2009)
Photos by Bennett Scarborough