For the Texas Longhorns, the 2019 baseball season ended prematurely. With the NCAA Tournament starting this weekend, it’s not hard to remember the thrilling highs of last year’s Austin regional and super regional that somehow seem not too long ago. Yet, after a disappointing 27-27 season, the focus on the Forty Acres has shifted towards next season.
For some current and (potentially) future Longhorns, that focus may be at the professional level.
Monday, June 3 marks the start of the 2019 MLB Draft, a three-day event that will see over 1,200 players get drafted to one of the thirty different MLB organizations. The University of Texas has had a long tradition of having one of their own names called during the draft: since the original MLB draft in 1965, at least three Longhorns have been selected in each draft.
That streak is likely to continue his year, with a few highly-ranked prospects mixed in with plenty of lower-ranked talents teams may look to take a flier on. Along with these prospects, there’s a few high school players committed to Texas at risk of taking the money and going to the pros, should they get drafted in a slot they deem worth it to bypass playing at UT.
Without further ado, here is your all-encompassing, probably-too-much-info, Burnt Orange Nation 2019 MLB Draft compendium, covering each notable player likely to get drafted, when they’re expected to be selected, and how likely it is that they go pro or return (or arrive) to school.
Baseball America Ranking: 15
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 218 | B-T: L-R
Scouting Report: Regarded as one of the best pure hitters in the draft class, Baty brings raw power to the table with impressive strength and plus bat speed. The ease with which he’s able to send the ball out of the park, both to the pull side and to the opposite field, rivals nearly any player in the 2019 draft, whether at the high school or college level. A big, 6-foot-3, 218-pound third baseman, originally, most scouts believed that Baty was destined for a transition to first base in pro ball because of his below-average footwork, suspect hands and a plus throwing arm that had strength but was erratic. He’s improved across the board defensively this spring, now giving himself a chance to stick at third base. He’s hit anything and everything thrown at him, so why is he “only” rated as a mid-teens draft prospect and not No. 1 overall? The biggest knock on Baty’s profile is his age. He’ll be just six months away from his 20th birthday come June 3, and he is one of the oldest high school players in the class. Many teams operate with draft models that significantly penalize hitters for that. But it’s hard to ignore Baty’s potential as a middle-of-the-order hitter, no matter his age or position.
Pick Prediction: Early 1st Round
“He Gone” Meter (1-10): 10. This kid is Bru McCoy levels of “He Gone”.
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 185 | B-T: R-R Commit/Drafted: Texas
Baseball America Ranking: 89
Scouting Report: A favorite sleeper in the early rounds by many MLB scouts this year, Faltine can do a little bit of everything and is more impressive because of his versatility rather than any one standout tool. Faltine has capably played almost everywhere around the diamond. He’s a legitimate two-way player who shows feel on the mound and a solid approach at the plate. As a pitcher, he doesn’t wow with overpowering stuff, but his average, 88-91 mph fastball (he can touch 92-93 mph) locates well, it’s a high-spin pitch, and has solid, natural cut. His curveball has excellent shape and, like his fastball, also locates it well. He’s toyed with a changeup and he’s added an 82-84 mph slider that shows above-average potential. As a pitcher, Faltine’s stuff may end up getting better if teams bet on his athleticism, and his feel will help him survive as he works to improve, but many teams like him better as a position player. Faltine’s best hope as a hitter is to play either shortstop or center field — he’s spent time at both spots. However, he lacks elite speed, relying more on his defensive IQ in the outfield and his first step and good hands at shortstop. Faltine has average raw power at best right now, and his swing is more contact-based. Faltine’s versatility means he’s not a refined defender at any position yet, but his feel for the game and excellent body control gives plenty of reasons to believe that the best is yet to come once he focuses on either hitting or pitching and picks a position.
Pick Prediction: Rounds 2-4
“He Gone” Meter: 8. He could be a much needed two-way star at Texas as a freshman, but as a potential late Day 1 or early Day 2 pick, he may never get to the Forty Acres.
Baseball America Ranking: 223
Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 170 | B-T: L-R
Scouting Report: One of the biggest reasons for this past season’s decline was the missed season from Hamilton, who was injured the entire year with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Hamilton’s injury obviously makes it difficult for teams to fully evaluate him, as his athleticism and speed were his best attributes. A left-handed hitter who focuses on making plenty of contact while using his plus speed, Hamilton also has a quick first step and the hands to stay at shortstop at the MLB level. He was overmatched as a hitter at times as a freshman, and even with improvement in his sophomore season, his lack of power is a concern in pro ball.
Pick Prediction: Rounds 5-10
“He Gone” Meter: 4. He could use a medical redshirt year and retain two years of eligibility if he doesn’t like where he goes in the draft. It could be in his and Texas’ best interests if he returns to school to improve his game and develop his power to alleviate his current draft-day concerns.
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 205 | B-T: R-R
Baseball America Ranking: 231
Scouting Report: Southard’s draft stock ticked up this spring after he came out throwing harder than ever before, as he’s been up to 95 mph this spring. A strong, compact physical frame makes it hard to project much more physically, but he has plenty of arm strength and feel to spin a curveball and slider.
Pick Prediction: Rounds 8-15
“He Gone” Meter: 6. A high riser in draft ranking boards over the past spring, Southard is a hard read to project because of the uncertainty of where he’ll end up getting drafted. H may get drafted and offered a sizeable bonus and go pro, but it’s completely within the realm of possibility teams are skeptical of the big righty, and he declines any offer to refine his strength at Texas.
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 195 | B-T: R-R
Baseball America Ranking: 241
Scouting Report: A cousin of top D-backs prospect right-hander Jon Duplantier, Andre Duplantier has one of the better curveballs in the prep class. His 88-91 mph fastball is also promising because he had advanced command of it for his age. Duplantier’s curve though is his most impressive asset, and major league clubs and scouts have taken notice of this with an average mid-200’s pre-draft ranking.
Pick Prediction: Rounds 8-15
“He Gone” Meter: 3. Despite a decent pre-draft ranking, most evaluators expect he’ll make it to Texas and be a key member of the Longhorns’ rotation.
Baseball America Ranking: 336
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 175 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Despite three productive years at Texas, pro scouts are lukewarm on Henley because his stuff hasn’t really gotten better since he started his career as a Longhorn. In high school, he had a monster senior year at Fort Worth’s Arlington Heights High, including back-to-back-to-back no-hitters at one point. After going in the 2016 draft as a 22nd-round pick to the Yankees, Henley was a well-rounded right-hander out of high school with an 88-92 mph fastball. And three years later, he’s a well-rounded right-hander with an 88-92 mph fastball. He’s a solid strike-thrower with a fringe fastball and changeup, but an excellent curve ball will get him some positive reviews. He’s a mid 300’s rank due to his inability to improve over his time at Texas, but a team will take a chance on his results and untapped potential.
Pick Prediction: Rounds 8-15
“He Gone” Meter: 9. He Gone, barring an extremely unlikely large drop in the draft that would cause him to come back to finish out his senior year at UT.
Of course, this run-down doesn’t include the full list of Longhorns likely to hear their names called during the draft. Other upperclassmen, such as Ryan Reynolds (Jr.), Austin Todd (Jr.), Donny Diaz (R-Jr.), and Tate Shaw (Sr.) may very well be selected in the late rounds. Not to mention, many other high school commits in the upcoming 2019 class will get drafted in the late rounds to get their names on MLB teams’ radars.
However, these players are all but guaranteed to return to Austin (or in any seniors’ case, graduate). However, for the names listed above, the draft should be watched closely by Longhorn fans to see whether they decide to travel the professional route or if they’ll be in Austin next year to work at getting back to an NCAA-leading 36th College World Series Appearance.
Stay tuned for more updates on the 2019 MLB Draft as they come.