North Carolina State coach Elliott Avent told Baseball America on Monday that the Wolfpack has parted ways with senior catcher Danny Canela.
Canela has 17 homers in three seasons at N.C. State, and he's coming off his best season in 2012, when he hit .348/.457/.507 with six homers, 18 doubles and 46 RBIs. He was slated to hit cleanup for the 'Pack as a senior, and he would have provided a much-needed lefthanded bat in the middle of the lineup.
"He is a great player, and he served us well, so I wish him well," Avent said. "For three years, he's been a good guy and a good player. At some point this fall, we just kind of parted ways."
Scouts have questioned Canela's work ethic for years, wondering why he hasn't been able to firm up his round frame (listed at 5-foot-9, 241 pounds). But he's always had a knack for making quality contact at the plate. Canela is headed to NAIA Lee (Tenn.), coach Michael Moody confirmed Tuesday, and he will be immediately eligible this spring.
For a Wolfpack team with legitimate College World Series aspirations, losing Canela is a blow, but NCSU should be able to overcome it. Sophomore catcher Brett Austin, an unsigned supplemental first-round pick in 2011, figured to be the primary catcher anyway, but losing Canela takes away N.C. State's security blanket in case injury should strike. Now Austin and freshman John Mangum are the only catchers on the roster, Avent said.
Austin's prospect pedigree is built on his offensive potential, as many scouts believed two years ago that he would eventually have to move to another position, but Avent said he worked hard this summer to improve behind the plate.
"He went to the Cape, he caught and did pretty good," Avent said. "Austin's receiving has cleaned up, although he still misses a ball occasionally. If he stays healthy, we'll be OK behind the plate.
"There will be more pressure on him, but I think he's good enough to handle it. If he gets hurt is my biggest fear. That's when I think we'd go backwards."
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