Western Carolina right-handed pitcher Chase Walter has signed as an undrafted free agent with the San Diego Padres following the abbreviated Major League Baseball Draft.

This year’s annual draft was shortened from 40 rounds to five due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walter was taken by the Los Angeles Angels in the 32nd round of the 2019 draft but returned to school for a season that lasted just 16 games before being halted by the pandemic.

“We’re so very proud of Chase,” WCU Coach Bobby Moranda said. “It’s great to see his hard work with (pitching) coach Taylor Sandefur paying off with this professional baseball opportunity. Chase has the stuff to be an impact Major League pitcher very soon and to advance through the Padres system quickly.”

A product of Peachtree City, Georgia, Walter concluded his two-plus seasons as a Catamount with 40 career appearances, including 29 starts. His 212 strikeouts are tied for 15th in program history.

A two-time Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week in 2019, Walter recorded double-digit strikeouts on four occasions as a sophomore. He fanned a career-best 17 against Furman

The transfer from Spartanburg Methodist debuted in Cullowhee in 2018 and was named to the Southern Conference All-Freshman team.

In the shortened 2020 season, he struck out 24 in 16-plus innings.