ECU or the majors? Cary pitching prospect Koen Moreno awaits fate on eve of draft

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Major League Baseball draft starts Wednesday night with the first round. Three area high school players could end up being selected during the two-day event. Whether pitcher Koen Moreno has his name called or not, he's in a great place.

It's a big week for this family. On Thursday, Moreno will get his diploma from Panther Creek High School. At the same time, he could potentially get a life-altering phone call.

"You know I've done everything I can, so I'm just excited to see, you know, what I'll be doing the next couple of years," Moreno said. "Not really nerves, just excitement."

To save money, the MLB shortened this year's draft from 40 rounds to just 5. Projections place Moreno as a borderline fifth-round pick, putting him squarely on the bubble. He said it wouldn't have mattered either way.

"So, if I wasn't drafted in the first five rounds, I would have wound up going to ECU anyway," Moreno said. "That was my original plan."

If untaken by a pro team, the 6-foot-2 righty will happily pitch for the Pirates, a program that continues to rise under head coach Cliff Godwin.

"I definitely can get excited about East Carolina," Moreno said. "They're a great program and up and coming, and Coach Godwin is one of the best coaches in the country. I've been committed to them since my freshman year, so it's been a buildup for me to go there."

Either in pro ball or Greenville, a 94-mph heater along with a nasty change-up should serve Moreno well. Catamounts coach Stephen Zimora said his leadership skills will be equally impactful.

"He would be here in our dugout after practice, him and our other captain, Brendan, and they'd sweep the dugouts after everybody left," Zimora said. "And they're going to get the kid that helps everybody else be better.

"This is like a once-in-a-lifetime thing for Koen but as well as a baseball program," Zimora added. "There are not many times a player of Koen's caliber comes through."

Either way, Moreno is ready.

"Whatever pathway I end up taking, I'm going to attack it with full force," he said.
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