DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The Major League Baseball draft has come to a close and Duke was well represented. Five Blue Devils had their names called by big-league teams to continue their careers on the professional level.
The first Blue Devil to hear his name called was junior Ethan Murray. He was taken in the fifth round with the 147th overall pick by the Milwaukee Brewers. He was an ironman for Duke in the infield, starting in all 128 games he appeared in during his three-year career.
“Ethan is a true gym rat on the baseball field,” said Duke head coach Chris Pollard. “He loves to play the game and his work ethic is unmatched. His understanding of process, combined with his work ethic, will make him a great professional baseball player. I have no doubts that Ethan has the skill set to play shortstop in professional baseball.”
The next player to hear his name called was Joey Loperfido. The Houston Astros selected him with the 208th pick in the seventh round. He played all over the field for Duke. He began his career as an infielder and finishing as the team’s centerfielder. After opting to come back to Duke after he was not drafted in the shortened 2020 MLB Draft, Loperfido led the program and was among the ACC leaders with a .374 batting average and a .473 on-base percentage.
“I am truly grateful for Joey and everything he has done to elevate the Duke baseball program,” Pollard said. “He leaves Durham as one of the winningest players and best leaders in program history. He will be a consummate professional within the Astros organization.”
Outfielder Peter Matt heard his name called in the 10th round. The Chicago Cubs took him with the 304th overall pick. He only played one season with Duke after transferring from Penn, but he made the most of it. Matt finished his career hitting .306 with 38 doubles, seven triples, 19 home runs, 106 RBI, and 34 stolen bases.
“Peter solidified our offense in 2021 with an elite combination of power and speed,” Pollard said. “What an incredible fifth year of eligibility. A Duke master’s degree from the Fuqua School of Business, an ACC Championship, and now an opportunity in professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Junior pitcher Jack Carey was selected with the first pick of the final day of the draft, going in the 11th round, 313th overall selection going to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Carey began his career as a reliever before growing into a starting role as a sophomore and becoming Duke’s Friday night starter as a junior.
“I am so proud of Jack and his development on the mound this year in our program,” Pollard said. “He emerged as a true Friday-night ace for us. As I have said on many occasions, we would not have won the ACC tournament and advanced to the NCAA tournament without the tremendous job he did down the stretch. He has the combination of stuff and competitiveness to be really successful in professional baseball.”
The final Blue Devil called in the 2021 MLB Draft was catcher Michael Rothenberg. He was a staple behind the plate during his Duke career. A rare switch-hitting catcher with power, Rothenberg appeared in 166 games while starting 157. He hit .266, and his 24 home runs rank 13th in program history while his 128 RBI ranked 17th, his 36 hit by pitches is fourth in school history, and his .479 slugging percentage placed 24th.
“Mike has a tremendous baseball IQ,” Pollard said. “He is a student of the game and he has an incredible knack for making pitchers better with his receiving and game management skills. Mike is the definition of a true student-athlete leaving Durham as a CoSIDA Academic All-American.”
Duke’s five draft picks tied for the third-highest in a single year in program history, trailing only 2018 and 2009 when they had seven Blue Devils drafted. All told, Duke has had 110 total players drafted with 32 of those coming under Pollard.