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RHP Tanner Witt announces return to Texas

In the biggest development of the 2023 MLB Draft for the Longhorns, next season’s prospective ace is running it back.

NCAA Baseball: Big 12 Conference Baseball Tournament Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

When the Baltimore Orioles drafted Texas Longhorns junior right-handed pitcher Tanner Witt in the 18th round on Tuesday with the No. 541 selection in the 2023 MLB Draft, the odds of the draft’s No. 76 prospect signing with the Oriole were always extremely slim.

On Wednesday, Witt wasted little time confirming his intentions — a return to the Forty Acres for a fourth season of college baseball.

A 6’6, 225-pounder from Houston Episcopal, Witt was ranked as the No. 74 player and the No. 14 right-handed pitcher in his recruiting class, according to Perfect Game. Witt was considered a potential late-first round draft pick in the 2020 MLB Draft before deciding to become a fourth-generation Longhorn.

As a freshman, Witt served in a key bullpen role for a Texas team that came up just short of the College World Series finals, posting a 5-0 record with a 3.16 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 57.0 innings while holding opponents to a .194 batting average.

In 2022, Witt moved into the weekend rotation and got off to a hot start, winning both of his starts and allowing only two earned runs in 11.0 innings with 14 strikeouts. But Witt experienced muscle soreness that worsened with further evaluation, ultimately revealing the need for Tommy John surgery.

Instead of opting out of the 2023 season in order to prepare for the draft, Witt returned to the mound in early May, but struggled through most of his six appearances, including lasting only 1.0 inning while allowing three runs on four hits in deciding game of the Palo Alto Super Regional. Witt finished with a 10.97 ERA in 10.2 innings and issued eight walks.

But with another offseason of recovery, Witt projects as the Texas ace in 2024 and as a player with the ability and work ethic to vault back into the first day of the draft next year, making his decision to return the biggest storyline of the 2023 MLB Draft for the Longhorns by significantly elevating the upside of the 2024 Texas team.