Justice Bigbie Drafted by the Detroit Tigers

Cullowhee, N.C.Justice Bigbie, a two-time first-team All-Southern Conference selection at Western Carolina, was today drafted by the Detroit Tigers on the final day of the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft. A junior utility player who split time between third base and left field over the past three seasons, Bigbie was selected as a first baseman by the Tigers in the 19th round with the 555th overall pick.
Bigbie is the first Catamount baseball player drafted by Detroit all-time. His 19th-round selection is the best for WCU since Bryan Sammons was taken in the eighth round by the Minnesota Twins back in 2017.
The 2019 Southern Conference Baseball Player of the Year and MVP of the Northwoods League that same summer, Bigbie has batted .348 over four seasons in Cullowhee. Among his 242 career base hits are 44 doubles to rank 22nd in school history, three triples, and 27 home runs which ties him for 24th in WCU’s record book. He has scored 151 career runs and is 19th in program history with 154 career RBI. Bigbie has twice been a team captain and was selected as the Leggett No. 7 Legacy recipient in 2020.
In addition to earning honors from the SoCon three times – All-Freshman in 2018 and twice a first-team all-conference selection in 2019 and 2021 – Bigbie has twice been dubbed ABCA All-Atlantic Region (second-team, 2019; first-team, 2021), and was a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America selection in 2018.
Bigbie, who is eligible to return to WCU, was among six Southern Conference players selected over the three-day, 20-round event that coincided with the 2021 MLB All-Star game in Colorado. 2021 regular-season champion Wofford and UNCG both had two players selected while WCU and Samford secured one draft pick apiece. All told, a combined 612 players were selected in the 20-round 2021 MLB Draft.
Since Western Carolina head coach Bobby Moranda has been at the helm in Cullowhee, a combined 24 players have been drafted by MLB clubs with four – Jordan Smith (Tigers, 2014), Korey Anderson (Padres, 2017), Brendan Nail (Red Sox, 2017), and Chase Walter (Padres, 2020) – signing free-agent contracts to play professional baseball.
Additional WCU Draft Notes:
* On Tuesday afternoon, Western Carolina had a player selected in the Major-League Baseball First-Year Player Draft for the 33rd year dating back to 1977 … WCU has had 35 draft picks inside the top 20 rounds all-time;
* WCU’s only other 19th-round draft pick all-time was student-athlete alum Charles Thomas, picked in the 19th round by the Atlanta Braves in 2000 … Thomas advanced to the Majors with the Braves in 2004 and played in 2005 with the Oakland Athletics;
* WCU did not have a player drafted in 2018, halting a streak of 12-consecutive years of hearing a Catamount name called during the three-day event … Since 2000, WCU has had a player drafted in 17 of the 22 years, missing just 2001, 2004, 2005, 2018 and 2020 – though the event was reduced to just 10 rounds in 2020 … During that same span, WCU did see RHP Chase Walter sign as a free agent with the San Diego Padres in 2020, Jared Greenwood as a free agent with the New York Yankees in 2005, and Matt Price signed as a free agent with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2001;
* WCU has only had one player advance to the MLB club with Detroit as former fourth-round Oakland Athletics draft pick in 1994 Jason Beverlin pitched for the Tigers in 2002;
* WCU has had three players taken inside the first 100 picks all-time, headlined by Rick Adair with the 53rd pick of the third round by the Seattle Mariners in the 1979 draft – WCU’s highest selection all-time … Brad Tweedie (3rd round, 92nd pick by Cincinnati Reds in 1993) and Jason Beverlin (4th round, 93rd pick by Oakland Athletics in 1994).
2021 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft
Western Carolina 2021 MLB Draft Picks

Round Pick Name, School Position MLB Team
19 555 Justice Bigbie, Western Carolina 1B Detroit Tigers

 Southern Conference 2021 MLB Draft Picks

Round Pick Name, School Position MLB Team
7 204 Colin Davis, Wofford OF Seattle Mariners
12 354 Corey Rosier, UNCG OF Seattle Mariners
13 391 Hayes Heinecke, Wofford LHP St. Louis Cardinals
17 503 Brendan Collins, UNCG RHP Washington Nationals
19 555 Justice Bigbie, Western Carolina 1B Detroit Tigers
19 577 Sam Strickland, Samford LHP Atlanta Braves