The time is right

ECU’s Williams-Sutton to sign with Padres after being drafted in 5th round

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This time, the timing was right for Dwanya Williams-Sutton.

The East Carolina University junior outfielder had his name called in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday as the San Diego Padres selected him with the seventh pick of the fifth round and 141st overall.

Williams-Sutton’s draft selection comes three years after he turned down seventh-round offers shortly after graduating from Greenfield School. However, then he decided to wait and go to college. With just one season of college baseball left, the 2015 Wilson Times Athlete of the Year knew it was time to turn pro.

“I didn’t want to go back to school and be a senior signing next year so I took whatever I could,” he said in a brief telephone interview Tuesday afternoon.

The slot value for Williams-Sutton is $375,600 but his actual contract could be more or less than that amount. He said that he hasn’t worked out his contract so he doesn’t have any details on the amount or when or where he will begin his professional career.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Williams-Sutton was the first ECU player drafted through the first six rounds and the sixth player from a North Carolina college and ninth overall player from the state. Cary Green Hope High outfielder Jordyn Adams, who has signed to play football at the University of North Carolina, was drafted No. 17 overall by the Los Angeles Angels.

Williams-Sutton leaves ECU after three seasons that were a bit of a mixed bag. The Pirates reached the NCAA Super Regional round in his freshman season and, after high expectations going into the 2017 season, ECU didn’t even make it to the NCAA tournament. However, the Pirates turned it around this spring, winning the American Athletic Conference tournament and hosting an NCAA regional at Clark-LeClair Stadium for the second time. But after winning the first game, ECU lost the next two regional games and ended the season with a 44-18 record.

Williams-Sutton was named to the All-American Athletic Conference team for the second time in his career this spring.

For his part, Williams-Sutton batted .331 (44 for 133) with seven doubles, seven home runs and 21 RBIs this season while playing in 47 games. That was a step up from his injury-plagued sophomore season when he only played in 32 games, hitting .286 with seven homers and 15 RBIs.

As a freshman, Williams-Sutton led ECU with a .360 batting average, rapping five homers and driving in 27 runs while playing in 56 of the Pirates’ 61 games. He was named to several Freshman All-America teams and also to the All-AAC team in 2016.

Williams-Sutton finished with a career batting average of .331, which ranks in the top 20 in program history. He totaled 19 homers, 91 runs scored, 63 RBIs, 22 doubles and 27 stolen bases.

He was appreciative of his time at East Carolina, where he is two semesters shy of finishing his communications degree. He was twice named to the American Athletic Conference All-Academic Team and landed on the ECU Director of Athletics Honor Roll.

“We had a great run this year. We played well,” he said. “We just came up short in the regional but I enjoyed second at ECU with my teammates and I wish them the best.”

Williams-Sutton said that going to college for three years allowed him to mature.

“I’ve grown up and matured over the years and that’s probably my biggest takeaway from my senior year in high school to my junior year in college,” he said.

He reiterated that his decision to turn down professional baseball in 2015 and go to college was the right move, just as turning pro is the right move now.

“I’m way better off now going into the real world and starting a new chapter than I was in high school because I was only 17 coming out of high school and I’m 20 now,” said Williams-Sutton, who turns 21 next month. “I’ve learned a lot and being in college has helped me.”