NCCU Alum Devin Sweet Signs with Seattle Mariners
By JONATHAN DUREN
DURHAM, N.C. – Former North Carolina Central University pitcher Devin Sweet (Greensboro, N.C.) will continue his baseball career with a Major League club as he has signed with the Seattle Mariners, the organization announced.
Sweet said he was optimistic of getting a call to join an MLB team, but was still surprised when it came in.
“I was at Raleigh-Durham International Airport getting ready to pick someone up when the call came in,” said Sweet. “The scout messaged me earlier in the morning that there’s a good chance I might get the spot, and when I might be able to head out, and he said he’d probably let me know in the next 24 hours. Twenty minutes later, I got a phone call saying that they were finalizing everything and that I got the spot, and they need to know when I could head west.
“I was in disbelief, honestly,” Sweet continued. “At first when he told me there was a spot opening up, I thought that I probably wouldn’t get it. I thought I’d keep working out and stay optimistic, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much. When the scout called me I thought he was also just being optimistic. When he finally told me, I was just really shocked, surprised, and excited, and just ready to get home and tell my parents, and let everyone know the good news.”
Sweet was a four-year starter at NCCU and leaves as the program’s all-time wins and strikeouts leader with 18 victories and 246 punchouts over 59 appearances and 41 starts. During his senior campaign in 2018, he fanned 87 batters to set a new NCCU single-season strikeout record and tied his career season-high with five wins.
Sweet was twice named MEAC Pitcher of the Week in 2018, including when he collected a career-high 12 strikeouts without a walk and just four hits in a nine-inning complete game victory against Savannah State on March 24. He also hurled 10 strikeouts against NJIT and 11 against Iona during the campaign.
“We are all proud of Devin’s accomplishment,” said NCCU baseball head coach Jim Koerner. “He has been one of the top pitchers in the MEAC for the past four years and has earned the opportunity to pitch at the next level. We’re looking forward to seeing him do big things.”
Sweet becomes the third NCCU pitcher to sign a contract with a MLB club following Eric Kimber (Kansas City Royals) and Andrew Vernon (Milwaukee Brewers), who was the first Eagle to be selected during the MLB Draft. Sweet says it feels great to be able to continue the trend of recent success for the program.
“This is something I really wanted to do, just to keep it going,” Sweet said. “I know next year we have a lot of guys that are going to have a lot of scouts’ eyes, so just to be able to continue that tradition is great. I really think the program is heading in the right direction and getting a lot of recognition now with scouts and everything, so it’s great.”
Sweet now becomes the 10th Eagle to sign a professional contract in the program’s modern era which began in 2007.
The Mariners organization setup consists of the Tacoma Rainiers (AAA), Arkansas Travelers (AA), Modesto Nuts (A-Advanced), Clinton LumberKings (A), and two rookie league teams in Arizona and the Dominican Republic.
Seattle competes in the West division of the American League and last won the division in 2001 when it set the AL record with 101 wins and tied the Major League record as well. The Mariners are currently second in the division, but are in a Wild Card spot with a record of 57-35.
“I didn’t really get to watch Ken Griffey Jr. play back in the day, but I loved watching highlights of him,” Sweet said of the Mariners hall of fame outfielder. “I loved watching Ichiro and King Felix (Felix Hernandez), so they have a lot of players I looked up to growing up. I’m excited to get out there and show what I got.”
Sweet will report to the Arizona Rookie League squad in Peoria, Arizona, and he says he’s ready to start the next chapter in his journey.
“I’m excited. I definitely want to try to get out there and pitch with confidence, and know I deserve to be there so that I can be successful at that level as well,” Sweet said. “I just want to thank the NCCU Athletics Department, the coaches, and everybody involved with me being there to give me the opportunity to play baseball. I wouldn’t be here without everybody, so I just want to thank everybody for that.”