Pitcher Eric Orze Drafted by Mets After Surviving Testicular, Skin Cancer

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2020

The New York Mets logo is displayed Citi Field before Friday's Game 3 of the Major League Baseball World Series between the Mets and the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)
Peter Morgan/Associated Press

The New York Mets selected University of New Orleans pitcher Eric Orze, a two-time cancer survivor, in the fifth round of the 2020 MLB draft Thursday night.

Orze missed part of the 2018 season and the entire 2019 campaign while undergoing treatment for testicular cancer and skin cancer, per ESPN.

Mets vice president of international and amateur scouting Tommy Tanous commented on the pick:

"This is a kid that will not quit. He really won't. Our scouts fell in love with his split-finger, to tell you the truth. He throws a heavy, heavy fastball and he uses that split as his out pitch, his strikeout pitch. He accumulated tremendous numbers this year, and we felt it was a great value there. To get that kind of arm with that kind of out pitch there was a great way to end the draft. So, obviously, this is a high-makeup kid, high-quality kid who happens to have a really gifted pitch."

New York Mets @Mets

In the 5th round (150th overall), we’ve selected Eric Orze from @UNOPrivateers. #LGM https://t.co/wuN72VP7gG

Orze started his college career at Northwest Florida State before transferring to UNO in 2018.

The 22-year-old Illinois native posted a 2.75 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 19.2 innings across four appearances (three starts) for the Privateers in 2020 before the season was halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

"To go through what he went through a couple of years ago when it would have been easy to stop playing baseball or lose his purpose, and he never did," Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen told reporters. "And so, he's motivated and he wants the challenge of professional baseball, and we're glad to be able to give him that opportunity."

In March, Orze told Rod Walker of the New Orleans Advocate he was shocked by the initial testicular cancer diagnosis and frustrated by the follow-up skin cancer diagnosis, but he survived and came through the process with a deeper love for baseball:

"Having that taken away from me opened my eyes to how much I appreciated and loved the game and how much I'm willing to do for it. I always tell everybody, as bizarre as it sounds, having cancer was actually good for me. It kinda opened my eyes to just how much I want to do this and how little time I have to prove to whatever professional people come to see if I have the ability to play at the next level. A drastic change needs to happen to ensure I'm going to be able to do that if that's really what I want. So cancer kicked me into overdrive."

With the minor league season likely canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Orze probably won't make his debut in the Mets organization until 2021.  


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