Texas Baseball Loses Knebel and Ball, Gains Thornhill and Schiraldi

Will he return? - Photo courtesy of Tim Irby

The two players expected to sign MLB contracts have now done so and the wait for juniors Mark Payton and Erich Weiss begins.

The 2014 Texas baseball roster is beginning to take shape with under three weeks left until the July 12th MLB draft signing deadline. Junior pitcher Corey Knebel, a first round pick of the Detroit Tigers, signed for $1.433 million and high school senior Trey Ball signed with the Boston Red Sox for below slot value at a paltry $2.75 million. Both players were expected to go pro.

On the positive side, junior pitcher Nathan Thornhill (3-6, 2.21 ERA) announced last night that he will return for his senior season, ensuring Texas will return all three starters from last season's excellent pitching corps. He will be joined in Austin by All-American JUCO transfer Lukas Schiraldi whose father announced his son will play at Texas rather than join the Washington Nationals organization. Schiraldi was rated as the draft's 183rd best prospect by Baseball America.

All that remains to be seen is whether Erich Weiss (11th round) or Mark Payton (16th round) will try to come back and earn some money.

If both players return then there will be reason for optimism in Austin once again with a projected lineup that could look like this:

C - Jacob Felts/Tres Barrera - Word is that Barrera is raw behind the plate but his advanced bat will be too difficult to keep out of the lineup. Felts actually hit .272 last year but he still has zero power.

1B - Kacy Clemens/Alex Silver/Ty Marlow - Clemens may pitch but his size (6'2" 200 pounds) makes him a more palatable option at this position.

2B - Brooks Marlow/Bret Boswell/Zane Gurwitz/Madison Carter - Brooks Marlow's reign of terror may be ending, or maybe not.

SS - CJ Hinojosa - Can he build off a great freshman campaign?

3B - Andy McGuire - The top rated high school senior to make it to campus should start from day one and could take over for Weiss who has struggled mightily at the hot corner for the last two years.

LF - Erich Weiss - Augie experimented with Weiss in the outfield at the end of 2013, will it stick if he returns?

CF - Colin Shaw/Taylor Stell/Weston Hall/Ben Johnson - A fairly open competition.

RF - Mark Payton - Come back, Mark!

DH - Barrera - If he's not catching he'll be DHing.

SP - Thornhill, Dillon Peters, Parker French - An embarassment of riches.

RP - Chad Hollingsworth, Travis Duke, Ty Marlow, John Curtiss - Three of these guys could be the midweek starter.

CP - Schiraldi - Could be a major leaguer in a few years...

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