Day 2 of the MLB Draft is underway, and there’s a handful of Texas Longhorns players and signees who may hear their name called and receive an invitation to join a major league club. Follow this thread for live updates regarding the draft, Texas baseball, and everything else in between.
10:00 PM Central — Undrafted Longhorns announce they’ll be playing for Texas next year
Once the dust settled upon the draft’s close, several Longhorn players and commits took to twitter to announce they would be suiting up in the burnt orange and white next spring. Current OF Austin Todd and high school signee 3B/RHP Tanner Witt were among those that sounded off:
Well Texas, can’t get rid of me yet, we’ve got unfinished business. pic.twitter.com/8lbVpr26tB— Austin Todd (@AustinTodd44) June 12, 2020
The past 48 hours have been a great experience and I am honored to be considered by several MLB teams. I enjoyed the process but after much consideration with my family we believe there is work to be done on the 40acres. We are very excited to be part of the Longhorn family!— Tanner Witt (@wittnesstwitty) June 12, 2020
9:40 PM Central — RHP Bryce Elder selected 156th overall by Atlanta Braves
Narrowly making the 160 player cut, Elder was chosen as the fifth-to-last pick in the draft and was the first and only Texas Longhorn to get drafted. The ace on the Texas pitching staff these past two years, the Braves will get a solid, safe player in Elder. Per the BON scouting report:
A polished college pitcher with an MLB frame, Elder isn’t the sexiest pick in the draft, but he’s a solid, reliable arm that has a great track record and will be ready to play at the next level. After an iffy freshman season coming out of the bullpen (5.55 ERA in 35.2 innings), Elder came into his own as a starter in his sophomore year, posting a 2.93 ERA in 13 starts and 83 innings. This past season was shaping up to be even better, with a 2.08 ERA in 26 innings with 32 strikeouts to just seven walks. Elder’s bread and butter on the mound is a sinker/slider combo that both top out at 88-92 mph. However, Elder is a smart and calculating pitcher who constantly mixes up his pitches based on what works each day. Elder’s track record should be enough to get him drafted — it’s just a shame we didn’t get to see him finish off what was shaping up to be an incredible season this year.
Elder nearly slipped into undrafted territory, but by going in the fifth round, his draft slot of 156th carries an expected value of $336.6K. It will be interesting to see if Elder elects to go pro or return to school, but it’s more than likely we’ve seen the last of Elder as a Longhorn.
8:41 PM Central — No Longhorns taken in Round 4
No Longhorns or Longhorn commits heard their names called in the fourth round of the MLB Draft. Tanner Witt still remains atop the ESPN big board of available players, while pitcher Bryce Elder could have his name called any moment to a team needing ready-to-play pitchers.
7:15 PM Central — Three rounds in the books with four Longhorn commits off the board
Of the six players identified in yesterday’s draft preview, four have been taken so far. Remaining are RHP Bryce Elder (83rd Pre-Draft Ranking) and 3B/RHP Tanner Witt (92nd Pre-Draft Ranking). The Texas Longhorns currently lead the nation in committed players drafted.
Schools that have had the most recruits drafted through the first three rounds:— Teddy Cahill (@tedcahill) June 12, 2020
Texas - 4
Arkansas - 3
UCLA - 3
Mississippi State - 2
Oklahoma - 2
Vanderbilt - 2
6:56 PM Central — OF Petey Halpin selected 95th overall by Cleveland Indians
Another Texas commit is off the board, as Petey Halpin goes to the Indians in the back half of the third round. The Manhattan Beach, CA product was Baseball America’s 82nd ranked prospect. Halpin was all over many outlets’ draft boards, with some touting the outfielder as a top 100 player, and some projecting him not to be drafted at all. Per the Burnt Orange Nation scouting report:
He doesn’t have a track record of showcasing much power, but scouts believe that he can add strength in the future to put some pop with an excellent approach and above-average contact. A fielder who projects to one of the corner outfield positions, his arm is wildly inconsistent, but his high-energy play style puts him in position to make plays in the outfield. Halpin’s bat has him “in second-to-fourth round consideration even with questions about his power and future position,” according to Baseball America.
The Indians’ selection of Halpin is the second Longhorn commit they’ve taken this draft after Cleveland took Carson Tucker with their first pick.
5:51 PM Central — MLB Draft passes midway point
The draft has been playing to expectations, at least from a Texas Longhorns perspective. No Longhorn players have been selected in the draft, and three signees have been taken so far. At this point, many teams are trying to get creative with their picks in order to be able to afford all their selections. RHP Bryce Elder, as well as a handful of commits, are still expected to be drafted before the end of the night.
4:50 PM Central — ESPN’s Jeff Passan says Texas commit Tanner Witt (3B/RHP) may have told MLB teams he “plans on going to school”
While discussing Texas commits, Passan stated on air that he had been told Witt (3B/RHP, Bellaire Episcopal) told MLB clubs that he was planning on forgoing professional ball in favor of a college career at the University of Texas. This would help explain his fall on the draft board, as Witt ranks as ESPN’s 47th best player and is currently third on their overall big board.
4:40 PM Central — RHP Jared Kelley selected 47th overall by Chicago White Sox
Not much time was wasted between Longhorns, as Kelley’s name was finally called by the White Sox. The Refugio product is the third Longhorn to be selected in the draft, but he’s the first one to really see his draft stock fall from pre-draft projections. Baseball America ranked him as the 12th best player in the draft, and many other outlets had him as a bonafide first round pick. Burnt Orange Nation’s scouting report below explains why:
Kelley is labeled by Baseball America as “the most MLB-ready prep pitcher” thanks in part to his size and his overpowering stuff on the mound. Kelley runs his fastball up to 97-99 mph with ease, and pairs that pitch with an excellent low-80’s change-up, and locates both those pitches with precision. This year’s pitching class is rated as one of the best we’ve seen in recent memory, but for teams looking for high upside, Kelley has one of the highest ceilings in the draft.
There’s the chance that Kelley had told MLB teams in initial meetings that he was leaning on going to school, or that his asking price to sign with a team was out of their price range. The difference in slot value between Kelley’s 47th and his fellow Texas commit Tucker Carson’s 23rd spot is a cool $1.35 million.
Texas RHP signee Jared Kelley, Gatorade's National Baseball Player of the Year, is now off the board with the No. 47 pick by the White Sox. The approximate pick value for that slot is $1.58 million. #HookEm— Wescott Eberts (@SBN_Wescott) June 11, 2020
4:31 PM Central — RHP Jared Jones selected 44th overall by Pittsburgh Pirates
Jared Jones, a right-handed pitcher from La Mirada (Cali.) went just around where he was being ranked, as ESPN’s Keith Law and Baseball America both had him in the low 40’s. Here’s the scouting report on Jones from the Burnt Orange Nation Draft Preview:
Jared Jones was tabbed as a future first-round pick back in his sophomore season by major scouts, and has done little to dissuade that projection. A three-time member of USA Baseball’s junior national teams, Jones stars both on the mound and in the outfield as a wiry athlete. Despite the smaller frame, his arm speed generates a lively mid-90’s fastball, and his above-average mid-80’s slider devastates batters. In the field, Jones is a great runner with an even greater arm, earning the maximum 80 grade on his throwing. His hitting tool needs to be worked on, as “he flashes big power at the plate, but he’s a free swinger who scouts aren’t sure will make enough contact against better pitching.” In addition, Jones comes from a family of baseball talent. His father Keith was a 1997 draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and his cousins Randy and Ron Flores both pitched in the majors.
Jones was projected as a second or third round pick, so this wasn’t too surprising. The pick slot also carries significant value, and may be enough to lure Jones away from the Forty Acres.
Yesterday marked the opening of the 2020 MLB Draft, with the first round concluding with one Texas commit selected. Carson Tucker, a shortstop from Phoenix (Ari.) Mountain Pointe, went 23rd overall to the Cleveland Indians. Though all draftees can elect to forego the pros and go to school, Tucker is leaving nothing to imagination with regards to where he plans on being next year.