Former Rocky Mount High pitcher Benton Moss was sitting pool side when he received arguably the most important telephone call of his life Saturday.
On the other line was the San Francisco Giants congratulating him, only he didn’t know why.
He looked back down at his phone as the MLB Draft tracker updated and saw that the Giants had made him their 15th-round selection.
“It’s really exciting that a team wants to pick you up and hopefully develop you into the best player you can be and see where you’ll go,” Moss said. “The team that has the confidence enough to draft me is an honor. I’m humbled for the opportunity.”
Moss, a junior at North Carolina who will graduate in December, has pitched in the Tar Heels’ starting rotation for the past three years, helping them to the College World Series last year.
With his baseball future in question, Moss never even heard from the Giants before they drafted him Saturday.
He had no idea they were going to pick him. After the selection came, his phone didn’t stop ringing. His parents called and friends wished him congratulations.
“I’m just excited about the whole process regardless of whether I sign or go back to school,” Moss said. “I’m honored and humbled that they put their faith in me.”
Moss said he has been very clear with scouts and teams during the draft process about the signing bonus he would need to leave school and expects to begin negotiating after the draft concluded Saturday.
“Hopefully, they’ll be able to give me what I’m asking for,” Moss said. “It’s not going to be an easy decision, but I’d like to go.”
During his three years at North Carolina, Moss posted a combined 3.17 ERA with 252 strikeouts in 264 innings. After being named an Under Armour All-American in high school, Moss was a first-team freshman All-American after his freshman year at North Carolina. Moss, who can touch 94 mph with his fastball, posted a 1.94 ERA in his first year with the Tar Heels and has seen an increase in workload every year.
“Mentally, I’m much more of a pitcher, having gone through three years in the ACC, which is a great league” Moss said. “I’m grateful that I got to do that. ... You learn a lot about yourself and how to pitch. From a mental and physical standpoint, I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better through the last three years at North Carolina.”
Moss said that there were a few teams that he hoped would draft him based on a lack of depth in the organization and that Giants were a good fit for him.
“The Giants are a great organization and have good development,” Moss said. “I don’t think I could have asked for a better pick.”
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org