Unlike some past seasons, the Texas Longhorns baseball program made out well in the 2019 MLB Draft, with three of the four signees selected immediately announcing their intentions to play on the Forty Acres and only three players picked from the current roster.
With many contract negotiations now complete or in the advanced stages, let’s recap where things stand as the 2020 roster continues to take shape for head coach David Pierce and his staff.
Brett Baty expected to sign with New York Mets
The Mets are set to get a potential bargain for the Lake Travis product, who was selected with the No. 12 overall pick despite his advanced age for a first-round selection — he’ll turn 20 in November.
According to a report from MLB.com, Baty is expected to sign for well less than the $4.7 million slot value of that pick after traveling to New York for a physical. When Baty does put pen to paper to become a professional baseball player and, almost certainly, a multi-millionaire, it won’t come as a surprise.
The third baseman hit .600 and led all high school players with 19 home runs last season.
Update [Monday 12:40 p.m. Central]: Baty signed with the Mets over the weekend:
Blair Henley inks with the Houston Astros
The seventh-round pick of the home-state Astros will play for the Lone Star State organization after signing with the Astros this week. Henley, a junior, had a slot value of $188,900 at the No. 288 pick.
The 6’3, 190-pounder had a 6-4 record in 2019 for the Longhorns with a 3.54 ERA in 13 starts while finishing second on the team with 62 strikeouts. Inconsistent throughout his first two seasons at Texas, Henley started his junior campaign slowly, allowing three or more earned runs in his first three starts, then settled down — in eight of his last 10 starts, he allowed two earned runs or fewer. However, there are lingering concerns about his control, as he afforded opponents five or more walks in three starts, including seven bases on balls against Oklahoma State in a 10-2 loss.
Ryan Reynolds expected to sign, too
An ironman for the Longhorns as the only player to start every game in 2019, Reynolds was selected in the 14th round by the Chicago Cubs after hitting .274 and once again improving his slugging percentage.
In the draft’s immediate aftermath, his father, former Astros pitcher Shane Reynolds, told the Sports Director of Fox 26 in Houston that his sign will sign with the Cubs.
“I think it’s awesome,” the elder Reynolds said. “It’s something he’s been wanting to do his whole life. He’s one of those cage rats. Knows how the game is supposed to be played.”
No news yet on David Hamilton
As a player who relies on his speed, David Hamilton suffered a significant injury before his crucial junior season when he tore his Achilles while riding a scooter. However, that didn’t stop the Milwaukee Brewers from selecting Hamilton in the eighth round with the No. 253 pick.
There’s a slot value of $162,000 for that selection and Hamilton is expected to sign despite his leverage — the slick-fielding shortstop could return for a redshirt junior season and still have a potential senior year to use in negotiations in the 2020 MLB Draft. The risk in returning is higher for Hamilton than his selection or signing is for the Brewers, as a failure to produce in college at the level of his 2018 breakout season would likely crater his draft value.
Hamilton’s selection in the eighth round by the Brewers has drawn praise as a high-value pick and could work out well for both sides if Hamilton can regain his speed and continue his positive trajectory at the plate.
Three signees will play at Texas
The best news for Pierce and his staff is that Jared Southard, Sammy Faltine, and Silas Ardoin will all play for the Longhorns next season.
All three decisions are big, but Southard’s looms particularly large, as he emerged as the top pitching prospect for the Longhorns in the 2019 class during his senior season. For college baseball coaches, it’s important to sign prospects with upside who don’t become high draft picks, but Southard’s emerging fastball, which topped out at 96 mph this spring, nearly vaulted him to the professional ranks.
In fact, the Angels called Southard and considered taking him with a fifth-round pick that eventually resulted in the selection of Tennesse pitcher Garrett Stallings. Fortunately for Texas, Los Angeles wasn’t willing to meet Southard’s contractual demands at that spot and the Leander Rouse product quickly announced his decision to play for the Longhorns.
“Jared is a big-bodied power right-hander like those that Texas fans have watched over the years,” assistant coach Phillip Allen said last fall. “He was blessed with a great arm. I have seen him throw 97-98 from the outfield in a showcase environment so you know the arm strength is there. Jared should follow in the lines of the great powered-arm pitchers that have pitched for the burnt orange over the years.”
Ranked as a top-100 prospect by Baseball America, Faltine’s drop into the draft to the 39th round was clearly a result of signability concerns, so the Boston Red Sox surely weren’t caught off guard when Faltine followed Southard in opting to play college baseball.
“I would argue that Trey is the most versatile player in the country,” Allen said. “He has represented Team USA on several occasions and plays all over the field for them. He is very, very athletic and can really run. The great thing about him along with all his tools is how well he knows the game and much he loves to play. He is a very polished pitcher that is only going to improve his stuff as he continues to grow and add weight. He legitimately can play any position on the field, but I’m looking forward to see how well he does at shortstop when he shows up on campus.”
Selected in the 36th round by the Colorado Rockies, Ardoin was actually the first of the three to reveal his own choice.
The son of a former professional catcher, Ardoin is the frontrunner to provide stability to a position that suffered from poor play and injuries in 2019.
Matteo Bocchi signs undrafted free agent deal
The Italian-born pitcher officially became a members of the Cubs organization on Wednesday:
I’m officially a member of the Chicago Cubs! -> ->Cubs pic.twitter.com/7K8tstCJuL— matteo bocchi (@Mbocchi33) June 13, 2019
Bocchi spent two seasons in Austin after starting his collegiate career at Odessa College. In 2018, he won the decisive game of the Austin Super Regional by going five innings and allowing only one earned runs against one of the nation’s top offenses. As a senior, he dropped his arm slot to get more movement on his pitches, ultimately saving two games and finishing with a 2.45 ERA.