CLINTON, S.C. – Presbyterian College left-handed pitcher Hayden Deal is headed to play professional baseball after signing a free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves on Friday at the team's spring training facility in Orlando, Fla. Deal is the first Blue hose player since Bud Jeter in 2013 to make it the professional level.
"Hayden Deal made tremendous strides both on and off the field during his time at PC,” said head coach Elton Pollock. “He is an outstanding young man and an extremely hard worker. Since his arrival in 2013, through hard work and dedication, he was consistently one of our best pitchers. I am grateful to the Atlanta Braves for making his hard work pay off and making his dream come true. I am extremely proud of the man he has become. He comes from an outstanding family, and I know they are excited and proud as well."
Deal, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound pitcher, went 4-4 with a 3.56 ERA in 78.1 innings pitched in 14 appearances (13 starts) in his final season at PC as a part of the weekend rotation. The lefty led the team with 78 strikeouts and a .233 opponent batting average, while allowing the fewest extra-base hits (15) among all of PC's regular starters. The .233 opponent batting average was the second-best in a single season in PC's Division I era. He also fanned 8.96 batters per game in 2017, the third-best in a season in the program's D1 era.
The native of Newton, N.C. was named the Big South Pitcher of the Week on April 10 for his performance against Big South Regular Season Champion Winthrop. Deal tossed a complete game one-hit, one-run performance against the Eagles en route to a 3-1 PC victory and a sweep. He allowed just five WU batters to reach base in the game and struck out seven against a lone walk, while retiring 10 straight at one point. The one hit was the fewest against the Blue Hose since 2011 and gave Deal his first career weekly conference honor.
Deal, a product of Bandys High School, capped off his final season with the program by earning Big South All-Tournament honors, one of four PC players to be named to the team. In his final outing in a PC uniform, Deal earned the victory in PC's first ever win in the Big South Tournament, a 6-4 win over UNC Asheville. He worked 7.0 innings and allowed four runs (two earned) on three hits with seven strikeouts against three walks, while setting down 10 straight Bulldogs at one point.
In four years at PC, Deal amassed 87 career appearances, the second-most in the program's modern era (since 1988). He finished his career with eight victories and 10 saves to go with 182 strikeouts and a .251 opponent batting average, the third-best mark in PC's modern era. Deal averaged 8.97 strikeouts per nine innings in his career, the second-best mark in the modern era.
Deal, who graduated from PC in May, awaits his first minor league assignment. He is expected to play in the short-season Gulf Coast League to start his professional career.