Texas baseball was in pretty rough shape in 2008. The Horns had struggled throughout the season and lost as a 2-seed in the Rice regional. That team had some talented freshman who had come of age in tough situations throughout the 2008 regular season. That June a young pitcher by the name of Taylor Jungmann fell to the 24th round because of his incredibly strong commitment to Texas. Texas lost two of its best players to the 2008 MLB Draft in Jordan Danks and Kyle Russell but the addition of Jungmann and maturity of players like Chance Ruffin, Cole Green and Kevin Keyes nearly brought Texas a title just a year later.
Here we are four years later and Texas finds itself in a nearly identical position. A bevy of talented sophomores and freshmen this season should make Texas a much better team next season. They could, in fact, be a stud hitter away from being title-contender good. The Horns will return at least four potential starting pitchers (five in the unlikely event that Jacquez is reinstated) so finding the next great pitcher is less of an imperative.
The 2012-2013 incoming freshman class, therefore, reflects the need to find a few quality bats. As is always the threat with the MLB Draft, for every Jungmann and Russell there comes along a Josh Bell and Robbie Grossman whose commitment to Texas wilts under the temperature of a life-changing amount of money from an MLB signing bonus.
This year's draft could be a major shot in the arm for Augie Garrido's program or it could be a major letdown for the Horns. MLB's new CBA should change things dramatically and should prevent situations like Grossman and Bell's from taking place. A good description of the new CBA's affect on the draft can be found here, but it is logical to think that players falling out of the first round will be more likely to end up in college as pro teams are unable to offer dramatic amounts of money above the slot recommendations.
It couldn't come at a better time for Texas. By our count there are as many as eight members of the incoming class that could skip college to begin their pro careers. The further they fall in the draft the more likely they are to end up on the 40 Acres. Or so the thinking goes. Unlike the last two years when the Horns have been hurt by losing juniors to the draft, the Horns are relatively light on current players that could defect. The only junior contributors to the 2012 Texas team are Hoby Milner and Jonathan Walsh and neither are expected to go too high in the draft. Seniors Jordan Etier and Tim Maitland will graduate but both are imminently replaceable. The 2013 lineup will definitely include Erich Weiss, Jacob Felts and Mark Payton. Taylor Stell, Brooks Marlow and Alex Silver will have the inside track at retaining their positions.
That leaves at least three positions where freshmen could start from day one. Perfect Game's National Scouting Director David Rawnsley helped preview the incoming class a few days ago, which you can read (or reread) here. The first round starts tonight at 6 PM and will continue with rounds 2-15 tomorrow and 16-40 on Wednesday.
Join us after the jump for the full list of Texas commits and we'll try to update in the comments as players are drafted.
Steve Bean – C – Rockwall, Texas (Rockwall HS)
Madison Carter – IF – Sherman, Texas (Grayson College)
Ty Culbreth – LHP – Bryan, Texas (Bryan HS)
Austin Dean – IF – Spring, Texas (Klein Collins HS)
Travis Duke – LHP – Pearland, Texas (Dawson HS)
Spencer Edwards – IF – Rockwall, Texas (Rockwall HS)
Tyler Gonzales – RHP – San Antonio, Texas (Madison HS)
Courtney Hawkins – OF – Corpus Christi, Texas (Carroll HS)
Holden Helmink – RHP – Conroe, Texas (Willis HS)
Chad Hollingsworth – RHP – Waco, Texas (Robinson HS)
Ben Johnson – OF – Austin, Texas (Round Rock Westwood HS)
Wyatt Mathisen – C – Corpus Christi, Texas (Calallen HS)
C.J. Hinojosa – IF – Spring, Texas (Klein Collins HS)