The MLB draft's first round starts tonight at 6 PM and can give you your college baseball fix for the day since the Horns weren't fortunate enough to play again today. For college baseball fans the draft is a time for concern that the Majors will steal juniors, suck in high school recruits and turn the Pirates into a bigger rival than Oklahoma. All high school seniors and college juniors are eligible (as well as seniors in college obviously) for the MLB draft. There is also a way to be draft eligible as a sophomore, but you can breathe easy because Taylor Jungmann is NOT going anywhere.
For those that are unfamiliar with the workings of the MLB draft, high school seniors often use the prospects of going to college to gain leverage over the teams that draft them (thereby paying the players more money), although sometimes they legitimately want to go to college (see Jungmann, Taylor). Juniors in college have leverage over MLB teams in that they can always return for their senior seasons, but if they do that then they risk injury and pretty much lose all leverage. As a result, juniors with major league potential rarely return to college for their senior seasons unless they have something to prove following an injury (see Moldenhauer, Russell) or disastrous junior year. And that is how the MLB draft turns collegiate scholar athletes into bloodthirsty savages.
Keep reading after the jump for more on how the draft will affect the Horns and some words of advice from ESPN's Keith Law.
This year's Texas squad is about to get hit hard by the draft, a sad reality that has been clear since at least February of 2009. Brandon Workman, Chance Ruffin, Cole Green, Cameron Rupp and Kevin Keyes will almost certainly be gone as draft-eligible juniors along with senior Russell Moldenhauer. We're uncertain where Tant Shepherd's draft stock puts him, but nobody should be surprised to see him leave either. In other words, appreciate what we've got right now because the 2011 Texas baseball squad is going to look dramatically different, even by college baseball's standards of considerable turnover.
Texas also has nine high school seniors committed to play ball next year: Kirby Bellow, Jacob Felts, Mike Foltynewicz, Dex Kjerstad, Alex Silver, Christian Summers, Trevor Teyki, Nathan Thornhill and Erich Weiss. Of that gorup, Foltynewicz should be a very high draft pick (think sandwich round) but claims he will go to school unless he gets a "life changing amount of money." Kjerstad is also a candidate to be drafted early, although we admit that we don't follow the issue close enough to know which of these guys are legitimate risks to go pro and which will be wearing burnt orange next year.
Anyhow, in order to get a better handle on how some of Texas' the players will be faring in the draft, we talked to ESPN's Keith Law who was kind enough to answer some questions despite being smack dab in the busiest time of his year. Law (follow him here on twitter) runs much of ESPN's MLB draft coverage and is one of the preeminent writers on the MLB draft. For those with ESPN Insider access, Law has written player cards for Brandon Workman (here) Chance Ruffin (here), his latest Mock Draftt has Workman going 22nd to the Texas Rangers, and his Top 100 has Workman ranked #17 and Chance Ruffin #65.
(Keith Law...on where Chance Ruffin projects at the next level) I'm not sure that he ever projected as more than a back-end starter when he was in the rotation, so the move to the pen may have created an opportunity for him by demonstrating that he has value in a short relief role. He's got a good curveball that he can use more frequently in relief, whereas a starter he'd have to pitch off his fastball, which would probably top out as fringe-average working every fifth day.
(On Cole Green's draft stock and whether there's any chance he returns in 2011) I haven't heard his name in the second round, so I'd say probably third to fifth range. If he goes back for his senior year, in addition to risking injury, he'd be looking at a minimum of a 30% cut in projected bonus, so I'd say no.
(On Brandon Workman's stock over the last three months) It went down, then it went back up. Net effect was probably zero. He's a mid-first-rounder for me, and if he slips into the mid-20s someone will get a nice bargain.
(On whether Taylor Jungmann could go #1 in 2011) Not likely. Anthony Rendon is the current #1 guy for 2011, and I know a few arms ahead of Jungmann right now, although a lot will change even just over the course of this summer.
Thanks to Keith for taking the time to chat with BON, this can serve as your MLB draft open thread.