Only one day removed from landing 2017 right-handed pitcher Bryce Elder, Texas baseball coach David Pierce has struck again.
JUCO outfielder Duke Ellis committed to the Longhorns on Monday, according to Dustin McComas of Orangebloods. Ellis played for Panola College in 2017, and will be a sophomore next season for the ‘Horns.
Ellis was somewhat overlooked out of high school, though he was rated a top 1000 prospect by Perfect Game and the No. 44 outfielder in Texas. Ellis broke out at Panola, being named to the All-Region team and winning Freshman of the Year for his conference.
At Panola, the Nacogdoches native hit for a .415 average, launched four homers, 17 doubles, five triples, and stole a whopping 21 bases. He also only struck out 16 times in 197 at-bats.
Ellis’ speed is his greatest strength, and is perhaps what made him an appealing 20th round draft selection for the San Diego Padres.
Though the Longhorns were gutted by the MLB draft, the team will ironically replenish its roster with a pro selection who will opt not to sign a big league contract. Ellis was actually chosen more favorably in the draft than the former Texas outfielders he’s replacing (Patrick Mathis, 22nd round and Travis Jones, 29th round).
Like many of Pierce’s commits, Ellis has a high ceiling to continue to improve upon his game. The lefty is a rail thin 6’3, 160 pounds, and could develop even more power at the plate when Texas’ staff gets him in the weight room.
It is very likely that Ellis will be an immediate starter in the outfield for the ‘Horns in 2018. As a left-handed contact hitter with great speed, Ellis could easily slide into the No. 2 spot in the batting lineup.