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Analyzing the Texas players, signees selected in the 2022 MLB Draft

The Longhorns also had three highly-rated signees who were not picked in the draft’s 20 rounds.

MLB: MLB-Draft Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since the Cincinnati Reds selected Texas Longhorns center fielder Drew Stubbs with the eighth pick in the 2006 MLB Draft, the Longhorns had a position player selected in the first two rounds when the Arizona Diamondbacks picked redshirt junior first baseman Ivan Melendez with the No. 43 overall pick in the 2002 MLB Draft on Sunday.

The selection of Melendez, who swept the national player of the year awards and became the first Texas player to win the Golden Spikes Award, marked the first of eight Longhorns to go in the 20-round draft. Four signees — infielder Cutter Coffey, outfielder Henry Bolte, outfielder Brenner Cox, and right-handed pitcher Wyatt Cheney — were also picked, while three highly-rated signees were not.

So let’s take a look at each player and signee and the outlook for them moving forward.

Bakersfield (Calif.) Liberty infielder/pitcher Cutter Coffey

No. 41 overall to the Boston Red Sox

Ranked as the No. 4 player in California and the state’s top shortstop last fall, Coffey was the No. 105-ranked prospect by entering the draft, so the Red Sox clearly thought highly of Coffey and didn’t want to risk missing out on him by their next selection at No. 79.

Signing odds: 99 percent

Again, Boston saw something with Coffey they valued highly and while he may not receive all of his $1.9 million slot value, there obviously aren’t any signability concerns here — Coffey is a lock to begin his professional baseball career and intends to sign.

First baseman Ivan Melendez

No. 43 overall to the Arizona Diamondbacks

The El Paso product needs little introduction after hitting .387 and leading the nation with a program-record 32 home runs, 94 RBI, an .863 slugging percentage, and 214 total bases. After the Florida Marlins selected Melendez in the 16th round last season, he bet on his ability to improve at the plate and prove his value in the field and it paid off.

Signing odds: 99 percent

Melendez does have another season of eligibility, but he has nothing left to prove at the college level and is also 22.5. He should be in line to receive his $1.8 million slot value.

Palo Alto (Calif.) outfielder Henry Bolte

No. 56 overall to the Oakland Athletics

When Bolte signed with the Horns, he was the top-ranked player in California and the No. 13 player nationally. Entering the draft, he was ranked 40th overall, so there was only a slight slide for the powerful and speedy outfielder.

Signing odds: 99 percent

With a substantial slot value of $1.3 million and the selection by the hometown team, it’s impossible to imagine that Bolte would turn down the opportunity to turn pro.

Left-hander Pete Hansen

No. 97 overall to the St. Louis Cardinals

Hansen followed up a sensational redshirt freshman season with a strong redshirt sophomore campaign that featured him in the Friday starting role. There were some struggles for the left-hander, but his pitchability ensured that he came off the board in the third round.

Signing odds: 99 percent

Hansen is almost 22 years old and doesn’t have much more he could prove at the college level. The slot value for the pick is $629,500.

Catcher Silas Ardoin

No. 107 to the Baltimore Orioles

Ardoin was already on the major league radar following his selection in the 39th round of the 2019 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies, thanks in large part to his defensive pedigree. The Louisiana native fulfilled those expectations on the Forty Acres and added some power to his tool set in 2022 by going from nine doubles to 20 doubles and one home run to 12 home runs in raising his slugging percentage nearly 200 points to .513.

Signing odds: 99 percent

If Ardoin’s selection as the first pick in the fourth round wasn’t enough to indicate his plans, Texas already added USC transfer Garret Guillemette from the NCAA transfer portal after signing the top-ranked catcher in the state in Sinton’s Rylan Galvan. And, in fact, Ardoin’s tweet following his selection seemed to indicate his departure from the Forty Acres.

Rock Hill outfielder Brenner Cox

No. 111 to the Washington Nationals

Ranked as a near top-100 prospect in the country when he signed with the Longhorns, Cox is a projectable prospect with a left-handed bat, athleticism, and some natural power who stole 26 bases as a senior and had an on-base percentage of .487.

Signing odds: 100 percent

Cox had a pre-draft agreement in place with the Nationals. Given his No. 349 ranking by Baseball America entering the draft, he’s likely to sign for significantly below his slot value of $549,100.

Center fielder Douglas Hodo III

No. 167 to the Baltimore Orioles

As a full-time starter over the last two seasons, Hodo improved significantly, batting .281 with a .384 on-base percentage in 2021 and making further strides in 2022, raising his batting average to .319 and flashing massively improved power numbers at the plate. After hitting nine doubles and five home runs as a redshirt freshman, Hodo mashed 26 doubles and 10 home runs as a redshirt sophomore, raising his slugging percentage to .532.

Signing odds: 95 percent

Hodo still has two years of eligibility remaining, but his power surge put him into favorable position in the draft with a slot value of $319,600 and it’s not clear whether the greatest area of improvement for Hodo, stealing more bases, would substantially improve his value with a return to Texas. So it would be a shock to see the Texas legacy back on the Forty Acres for another season.

Shortstop Trey Faltine

No. 213 by the Cincinnati Reds

A long, rangy athlete who quickly became a refined and high-level shortstop at Texas, Faltine developed more slowly at the plate, hitting .259 in the shortened 2020 season before batting .249 in 2021 and beginning to show the natural power in his 6’2, 198-pound frame with 18 doubles and five home runs. As a redshirt sophomore, Faltine’s power continued to improve as his batting average jumped to .282 with 18 doubles and 15 home runs, boosting his slugging percentage from .401 to .552.

Signing odds: 95 percent

Faltine has higher upside than a seventh-round pick and would have put himself in a position to go earlier had his strikeout rate not ballooned to 43.2 percent. Since the swing and miss has been such a big part of his game over the last two seasons, it’s hard to see him risk coming back to Texas and failing to fix that issue.

McLennan CC right-hander Wyatt Cheney

No. 287 to the Baltimore Orioles

An Austin-area prospect who was recruited by Arkansas, Dallas Baptist, Texas, and TCU out of high school, Cheney signed with Oklahoma State and provided limited contributions in 2020 before struggling in 2021 with a 7.24 ERA and transferring to the Waco junior college. Cheney turned in a strong season there, posting a 10-3 record with a 3.20 ERA and 122 strikeouts.

Signing odds: 75 percent

Now three years out of high school, Cheney hasn’t proven himself at the highest levels of college baseball, so if the Orioles are even willing to give him half of his $155,700 slot value, it would make sense for him to avoid the risk of struggling again in the Big 12.

Third baseman Murphy Stehly

No. 291 to the Washington Nationals

Perhaps the single best story on the 2022 Texas team, Stehly went from a projected utility player with the potential to serve as the designated hitter to a star player who helped enable the monster season by Melendez by providing protection in the four hole.

Stehly ultimately started all 68 games and was outstanding at the plate, batting .367 with 19 home runs and 61 RBI even though he entered the season with one home run in his previous two seasons at Texas.

Signing odds: 100 percent

Stehly is out of eligibility, so even playing his way into the 10th round is a testament to his impressive season.

Right-hander Jared Southard

No. 358 to the Los Angeles Angels

Over 25 appearances this season, Southard posted a 4-1 record and a 2.76 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 29.1 innings as opponents hit .149 against the hard-throwing righty. Southard did struggle with his command at times, walking 19 batters, but his fastball regularly reached the upper 90s and his slider was a devastating pitch when he located it well.

Signing odds: 80 percent

The Angels clearly like Southard as a prospect after picking him in the 2019 MLB Draft, too. Perhaps the Leander Rouse product could improve his stock with a strong season as a closer, but he’s almost 22 coming off a good 2022 campaign, so this seems like the right time for him to make the jump to professional baseball.

Third baseman Skyler Messinger

No. 556 to the Colorado Rockies

After spending four productive seasons at Kansas, Messinger wasn’t selected in the 2021 MLB Draft and transferred to Texas to work under volunteer assistant Tulowitzki, his favorite player growing up in the Denver area. The decision paid off for the 6’3, 220-pounder, who had an outstanding season on the Forty Acres, batting .364, a career high, and hitting 11 home runs, almost double the six home runs he hit in his entire time with the Jayhawks, thanks to a swing-plane adjustment.

Signing odds: 100 percent

Messinger is out of eligibility, but it’s worth nothing how cool it is that his decision to come to Austin culminated in him being selected by his hometown team.

Key players, signees not selected

Redshirt junior left fielder Eric Kennedy

After four seasons on the Forty Acres, the Florida product faces a decision about his future — to sign as an undrafted player or to return for a fifth season at Texas. Kennedy does have some intriguing tools as a left-handed bat with plus speed who also showed some pop with seven home runs in 2022. As Stehly and Messinger proved this year, a strong super senior season could help Kennedy become a draftable prospect, especially if he becomes the regular center fielder and shows more gap-to-gap power instead of his heavy pull-side approach.

Signing odds: 55 percent

Kennedy is about to turn 23 years old, so his age is working against him, but he is one of the rare players who could actually benefit significantly from returning for a final season in college baseball.

San Antonio Brandeis shortstop/third baseman Jalin Flores

When the Longhorns flipped Red Raiders middle infielder Cade O’Hara last week, it seemed like a strong sign that Flores might hear his name called early and elect for a professional baseball career. Instead, clear signability concerns ensured that Flores fell out of the draft entirely despite his ranking as the No. 82 overall prospect by

“Jalin is a long athletic infielder with power in his bat,” Texas special assistant Philip Miller said when Flores signed. “Every time we see Jalin he gets better and better and he is already one of the best players in the country. I’m really excited see him develop in our program.”

The sharp trajectory for Flores was nearly enough to keep him from playing for the Longhorns, but the Texas product clearly decided he wanted to play college baseball. And that’s a huge gain for the Horns after Flores hit .417 with seven home runs and eight triples as a senior. He likely fits best as a third baseman and should become the immediate starter for Texas at that position.

Waxahachie first baseman Jared Thomas

Texas has long been the dream school for Thomas, who earned comparisons to the Clemens brothers from Longhorns head coach David Pierce when he signed last fall, so it wasn’t as surprise when the 6’2, 175-pounder made clear on Monday that he’ll play college baseball.

“Texas fans are going to love this kid, he bleeds Burnt Orange and plays with such a passion for the game,” Miller said. “He has really competitive at bats and has a chance to be an elite hitter for many years. He just helps his team find ways to win games.”

A left-handed batter known for his contact ability who also throws left handed, Thomas hit .484 as a junior with with 14 doubles, three triples, and four homers, finishing the season with 38 RBI, 35 runs, and 22 stolen bases, in addition to posting a 6-2 record with a 0.86 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 69.1 innings. As a senior, Thomas closed the season with back-to-back no-hitters and finished with a 1.62 ERA.

Thomas projects as the starting first baseman for the Horns in 2023 following the transfer of Gavin Kash.

Aledo outfielder Max Belyeu

A left-handed batter like Thomas, Belyeu was ranked as the No. 168 prospect by Baseball America. So, like Flores and Thomas, Belyeu is a player who clearly communicated to any interested major league franchises his intent to play college baseball. And that’s a huge win for the Horns because he also projects as an opening-day starter and will provide a much-needed left-handed bat.

Max is one of the best pure left-handed hitters in the country, he will bring an immediate hit tool to our program from Day 1,” Miller said. “He has good power and can play all three outfield spots. Max checks all the boxes for what we look for in an outfielder at Texas.”

Most likely to start in left field, Belyeu hit .356 with nine doubles, seven triples, and five homers as a junior, finishing with 33 RBI, 44 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases.

The draft didn’t feature any negative surprises for Texas, so the staff has had a head start in addressing the needs for the 2023 team, and keeping Belyeu, Flores, and Thomas in the class is a huge development for the Longhorns — securing half of the highly-ranked signees is a major plus in any cycle. Add in Kennedy’s possible return and this was a strong draft result for Texas that held the added benefit of some developmental stories that might play well with future recruits and NCAA transfer portal targets.