Following the selection of Texas Longhorns baseball signee Kyle Muller by the Atlanta Braves at No. 44 on Thursday, two Longhorns baseball players and two Texas signees were picked on Friday, the second day of the 2016 MLB Draft.
Junior catcher Tres Barrera was the first current Texas player selected when the Washington Nationals took him off the board in the sixth round. In the eighth round, the Colorado Rockies selected senior left hander Ty Culbreth. Right-handed pitcher Mason Thompson, a Round Rock product, was picked in the third round by the San Diego Padres, while Houston Seven Lakes outfielder Connor Capel was a fifth-round selection by the Cleveland Indians.
Posting a slash line of 289/.379/.455 while slugging 17 doubles and six homers and driving in a team-high 37 RBI, Barrera had a strong third season in Austin, all while showing of his versatility -- he logged starts at catcher (31), third base (14), designated hitter (8), first base (3) and second base (1) -- and improving behind the plate.
Thought to be a candidate to turn pro, Barrera quickly posted the following message to Twitter:
Want to thank the Washington Nationals for the great opportunity! It's only the beginning! Proud to be apart of the D.C family— Tres Barrera (@TresBarrera13) June 10, 2016
Based on that tweet and the following video, it certainly sounds like Barrera will turn professional while still having the leverage of being a junior who can return to school to maximize his contract:
Tres Barrera on being drafted by the Nationals. pic.twitter.com/dJvk99vHS5— Travis Recek -TWCN (@TravisRecek) June 10, 2016
For Culbreth, there's no decision to make, as his Texas career ended at the Big 12 Tournament. The Saturday starter for the 'Horns as a senior, Culbreth was the rock of the starting rotation, as the Bryan native was named to the All-Big 12 Conference second team after going 8-4 with a 3.74 ERA in a career-high 86.2 innings pitched. The left hander recorded a career-high 78 strikeouts in 16 appearances (15 starts) and finished with a 4.58 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the year.
With Muller a virtual certainty to sign with the Braves, the prospects of getting Thompson and Capel on campus may not be much better -- if there were signability concerns with either player, they likely would have fallen further in the draft.
Thompson is a 6'7 flamethrower who can hit the mid-90s with his fastball, but only pitched one inning last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, making him something of a risk. However, it was a risk that the Padres felt was worth taking in that spot, so it sounds like the team is intent on getting Thompson into the team's farm system.
"We saw it as an opportunity to take a guy who definitely would not have been there in that spot if he had stayed healthy for two seasons," Padres general manager A.J. Preller told the team's official site. "We felt like with the risk, the reward is a big-upside right-handed pitcher."
Capel is a left-handed hitter with an excellent arm and good speed, though his approach at the plate could use some development. The son of a former Texas pitcher, Capel may ask Cleveland for a significant bonus to turn pro, but right now it looks like there is probably at least a 50/50 chance that he forgoes his college career.
Day Three of the MLB Draft started at 11 a.m. CT and will feature the final 30 rounds.