After second baseman Kody Clemens heard his name called with the first pick of the third round on Tuesday, no Texas Longhorns players came off the board in the 2018 MLB Draft until pitcher Nolan Kingham was selected in the 12th round by the Atlanta Braves:
The Braves have a bonus pool of a little more than $8 million and may need to make a significant offer to Kingham to keep him from returning to school — he has enough talent to go much higher if he opts to return to school and comes close to maximizing his potential next season.
The 6’2, 205-pounder stepped into the starting rotation full time as a sophomore and posted a 2.84 ERA with a 10-4, significantly increasing the expectations heading into a junior season.
However, Kingham failed to emerge as the ace that many projected him to become, as his ERA jumped to 4.26 and he gave up more extra-base hits as the batting average of opponents jumped from .240 to .297.
Down the stretch, though, Kingham showed his significant potential with big-time starts against TCU and Texas A&M, with the latter coming after he spent all week battling an illness. In the season’s biggest game, he came through with 7.2 innings pitched, two earned runs, eight strikeouts, and only one walk.
The question now is whether his leverage will allow him to get above-slot money based on his potential. If not, will Kingham settle for less money than he could make next season with a strong senior year?
Most juniors opt to leave and not take the risk of another season, but Kingham’s situation is a little more unique than most because of his fall in the draft.