Texas Longhorns baseball announced today the addition of three new players to the 2020 signing class. Head coach David Pierce added two graduate transfers and a freshman to the nations No. 1 recruiting class. Mike Antico (St. John’s University) and Palmer Wenzel (UTSA) will join the Longhorns, as well as Lebarron Johnson (Jacksonville, Fla.) flipping from the Florida Gators.
The news comes right after Texas lost five players to the big leagues following the 2020 MLB Draft last month. Three of Pierce’s incoming 2020 recruits — pitcher Jared Jones, pitcher Jared Kelley and outfielder Petey Halpin — were selected in the MLB Draft and each signed their professional contracts. Pitcher Bryce Elder was also drafted in the fifth round and signed his contract with the Atlanta Braves, while outfielder Duke Ellis joined the Chicago White Sox as an undrafted free agent.
Antico, who plays outfielder and started 111 games for St. John’s, is expected to immediately contribute to the Longhorns in 2021 — he might even provide an upgrade over Ellis while providing similar skills like base-stealing ability and a high on-base percentage. With only four outfielders listed on the 2020 roster, including Ellis, Texas will enter 2021 low on depth in the outfield but the return of Austin Todd plus the addition on Antico will help combat the limited returning experience.
Antico was an unanimous first-team All-Big East selection in 2019 and was named the 2020 Big East Preseason Player of the Year. The New Jersey native finished his career at St. John’s with a .332 batting average in 152 games. He also has 44 career stolen bases and finished with a .500 on-base percentage in 2019.
Palmer Wenzel joins the pitching staff after 34 career games with the Roadrunners. From San Antonio, Wenzel finished his career at UTSA with a 9-2 record and a 2.69 ERA after a rough start to his career at McLennan Community College. In the four appearances he made in the shortened 2020 season, Wenzel pitched 6.1 innings with a 0.00 ERA. The right-handers 2019 season was cut short after a season-ending injury. Wenzel attended Champion High School in Boerne before improving significantly during his two seasons at McLennan.
I’m thrilled to announce that next semester I will be attending the University of Texas to pursue a Masters of Science in Information Technology Management.— Palmer (@PalmerWenzel) May 21, 2020
In addition, I would like to officially announce my commitment to @TexasBaseball as a graduate transfer. Hook ‘Em! pic.twitter.com/Qe6PHTJTgA
Lebarron Johnson wraps up Pierce’s 2020 signing class and is the fifth right-handed-pitcher to join the staff. The 6’4 pitcher is the 160th-ranked prospect according to Perfect Game with a “high ceiling... who could really come on in the future.” He had a 1.54 ERA as a junior with 74 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched. A sinking fastball with run and a biting slider are both pitches that make Johnson a projectable prospect who generated a lot of swings and misses in high school.