After signing the No. 1 ranked recruiting class for 2020, David Pierce could only watch as the MLB Draft pillaged stellar Texas Longhorns signees. Texas saw four signees drafted, along with right-handed pitcher Bryce Elder, and later lost outfielder Duke Ellis to free agency.
Carson Tucker (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe HS) was the first Longhorn signee taken off the board with the 23rd selection by the Cleveland Indians. Tucker’s slot value was projected to be at $2.93 Million, but took a pay cut and dotted the line for a cool $2 million —remember this when we get to Petey Halpin.
The Indians have signed shortstop Carson Tucker, source said. Their first pick, the No. 52 ranked draft prospect by MLB Pipeline, signed for $2 million.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) June 27, 2020
The infielder developed strongly enough during the off-season to shoot him up the draft boards from a late-round draft pick to a first-round selection. David Pierce believed that Tucker “had a chance to insert in the line-up early on in his career at Texas,” per Texas Athletics.
The second future Longhorn off the board was right-handed pitcher Jared Jones (Whittier, Cali./La Miranda HS) at No. 44. It was a risky pick for the Pittsburgh Pirates in part because Jones and his family were vocal that he would only jump to the majors if signed about his slot value. The Pirates did just that, signing Jones to a $2.2 million contract bonus, $510,500 above his slot value of $1,689,500 per Jim Callis.
Texas recruiting coordinator Sean Allen praised Jones and called him “possibly the most talented two-way player in the country,” but he’ll focus on the mound when his professional career begins.
Three picks later saw the Chicago White Sox select the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year and Texas signee Jared Kelley (Refugio). The right-handed pitcher’s slot value was projected at $1.58 million but Kelley signed well above it for $3 million.
Jones told the Chicago Sun-Times that it was a “little disappointing” not to hear his name be called in the first round. Perfect Game ranked Kelley as the No. 1 ranked player in the state of Texas and the top-ranked right-handed pitcher in the nation so it’s not exactly surprising to see him spurn the Longhorns.
Outfielder Petey Halpin (San Mateo, Cali./Mira Costa HS) was the fourth and final Texas signee selected at 95th overall by the Cleveland Indians. By drafting Carson Tucker in the first-round — yeah, remember him? — the Indians were able to save money and pay Tucker under his slot value to go over slot value with the California outfielder. Halpin had no interest in signing unless it was above his projected slot value at $610,800 and that’s exactly what happened. The Indians signed Halpin for $1.525 million while also giving the University of Texas the finger simultaneously.
Junior right-handed pitcher Bryce Elder was the first and only Longhorn drafted, taken off the board at No. 156 by the Atlanta Braves. The former All-American’s slot value was projected around $330,100, but signed with the Braves for $850,00 per Jeff Callis.
Outfielder Duke Ellis joined Elder in the transition to the big leagues, signing a undrafted free agent contract with the Chicago White Sox for $20,000.