Charlotte baseball graduate Joe Yermal became the third member of the 2012 senior class to turn professional this summer, signing a free agent contract with the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday. Following the clearance of his physical, he threw a bullpen for coaches in the organization ahead of his assignment to the Gulf Coast League Orioles, located in Sarasota, Fla.

Yermal finished his Charlotte career as the program's all-time leader with 54 starts and captured the second-most victories in school history, with 30. He led the team in 2012 with a 3.48 earned run average and became just the sixth player in team history to pitch 300 innings in a Charlotte uniform. He was part of Charlotte winning three conference titles and a pair of appearances in the NCAA Tournament. He was the first freshman in program history to start an NCAA tournament game, and was the first starter for the 49ers in the Raleigh, N.C. Regional in 2008. After an injury sidelined him for most of the 2010 season, he had a key comeback season, with a 6-3 record and 3.06 ERA in 10 starts for the 2011 conference championship and NCAA Tournament run.

Yermal was a 39th round pick of the Orioles in the 2007 draft out of McDonogh High School in Bel Air, Md., but after negotiations with O's, opted to try the collegiate game with the 49ers.

He last pitched for the 49ers in a doubleheader at home against St. Bonaventure on May 18, as he got a no-decision after eight strong innings of six-hit baseball to finish his career. He tossed 72.1 innings in his final season in Niner green.

"There has been a lot of waiting," said Yermal, on what he has been doing since the 18th of May. "I was disappointed to not be in the draft, but I have been throwing and staying with my program since the end of the season, trying to stay ready."

He walked in graduation ceremonies on May 12, receiving his B.A. in English. He, along with draftee Miguel Rodriguez and free agent signee Andrew Smith, all graduated in their senior season.

"For all that he has been through here, I am proud of Joe and what he has accomplished both on the field and in the classroom" said Charlotte head coach Loren Hibbs. "He had a good career here and is going to a great organization with the Orioles."

Yermal's short-term goal is to pitch well enough to advance to the New York-Penn Rookie League team in Aberdeen, Md., near his hometown.

"I have a lot of friends and family near there that are hoping I can play near them so I am going to work really hard to try to get promoted."

Yermal is the 62nd player in Charlotte baseball history to sign with a Major League affiliate.

NOTES: Former Niner and 2001 Conference USA Pitcher of the Year John Maine is scheduled to start for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in Fort Mill, S.C. against the Charlotte Knights on Wednesday, July 24... Former Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year and All-American Andrew Smith, who was signed as a free agent by the Angels in mid-June, was promoted to High-A Inland Empire on July 13, and has wins in his first two appearances with the 99ers in the California League... Charlotte's 2012 draft selection, Miguel Rodriguez, has recorded his first pair of two-hit games for the Gulf Coast Red Sox in his rookie campaign. Three of his four RBI in 16 games played have come in his last two games played as he starts to heat up in Florida.