Virginia Tech Baseball: Ian Seymour and Carson Taylor Highlight Historic MLB Draft for Hokies

Stephen Newman

Thursday night will go down in history for Virginia Tech. Pitcher Ian Seymour and catcher Carson Taylor were selected in the new-look five-round MLB Draft, becoming the first pair of Hokie baseball players to be selected within the first five rounds of the same draft.

Seymour, a left-handed starter and leader of the Virginia Tech staff, was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays with the 57th overall pick, while Taylor was taken with the 130th overall selection by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Seymour was expected to be off the board relatively early in the draft, but maybe not as early as he was picked. He became the earliest-selected Hokie since fellow left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders (12th overall) in 2002, and edged out Oakland Athletics “super-utility man” Chad Pinder (71st in 2013).

Seymour went 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 20 ⅓ innings during his pandemic-shortened junior season. He also averaged more than a strikeout per inning in his prior two seasons, and compiled a career strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 3-to-1 – two metrics that are always appealing to scouts and front offices.

According to MLB.com, “After throwing mostly in the 88-90 mph range during a successful stint in the Cape Cod League last summer, the southpaw came out throwing his fastball in the 90-94 range and sitting 92-93 mph consistently. Hitters could not square the pitch up thanks to Seymour’s deception and very heavy life to the pitch. His best secondary pitch is his above-average changeup, an offspeed offering that serves as his strikeout pitch.”

Understandably, Seymour was viewed as a prospect on the rise, and Tampa Bay General Manager Erik Neander (a Virginia Tech alum) grabbed him based on his potential.

By landing with the Rays, Seymour joins one of the best organizations at developing young starting pitchers over the last 10-15 years. In fact, Tampa Bay has been particularly successful with lefties – David Price and current ace Blake Snell come to mind.

Taylor, on the other hand, joins an L.A. organization that emphasizes sabermetrics behind the plate – particularly those related to pitch framing and earning strikes that should’ve been balls. Offense such as Taylor’s – a .431 batting average with 20 RBIs through 16 games in 2020, and more walks than strikeouts in his two-year collegiate career – is a bonus.

As a fourth-round pick, Taylor will likely be viewed as one of the Dodgers’ most important developmental catchers for the next few years. He also has collegiate experience at first base, and his bat would be serviceable at that position if needed.

Before Thursday, no single Virginia Tech player had come off the board in the first five rounds of the MLB Draft since Mark Zagunis (third round by the Cubs) in 2014, and only nine Hokies prior to Seymour and Taylor had been selected within the first 130 picks of the modern First-Year Player Draft (since 1965).

Perhaps this is a sign of what’s to come for third-year head coach John Szefc’s program.

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