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How Texas fared in the 2023 MLB Draft

In losing only one signee and securing the returns of Tanner Witt and Lebarron Johnson Jr., among others, the Horns came out winners following the draft.

Syndication: Austin American-Statesman Aaron E. Martinez / American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

The passage of Tuesday’s deadline for 2023 MLB Draft selections to come to terms provided further clarity for the Texas Longhorns roster heading into fall preparations for the 2024 season following outfielder Dylan Campbell inking a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, becoming the final Texas draftee to sign.

Campbell’s decision ended a successful draft for head coach David Pierce and his staff — only one signee from the recruiting class was selected and pitchers Tanner Witt and Lebarron Johnson Jr. both elected to return to school in huge coups for the Horns.

Here’s how the draft ultimately played out for Texas.

Round Rock RHP Travis Sykora selected No. 71 by the Washington Nationals

The flame-throwing local product was always the most likely signee to opt for professional baseball and did so despite a modest slide in the draft. Sykora quickly made his intent to sign with the Nationals clear and Washington reciprocated by handing Sykora a $2.6 million deal, well over the $1.02 million slot value for the No. 71 pick and one of the largest above-slot contracts in the entire draft. There are concerns about the lack of movement with Sykora’s fastball, but his velocity and developing secondary pitches make him a prospect to watch in the Washington system.

OF Dylan Campbell selected No. 136 by the Los Angeles Dodgers

The toolsy Campbell raised some hopes that he might return to the Forty Acres for his senior season when negotiations with the Dodgers lasted into this week before he reportedly signed for $500,000, modestly over the slot value. While Campbell may have to prove that he can play center field in the Dodgers organization, his speed, contact ability, line-drive power, and strong arm are all impressive attributes.

LHP Lucas Gordon selected No. 179 by the Chicago White Sox

As the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, Gordon took an impressive resume into the draft process and became a value signee for the White Sox when he inked a contract for $300,000, a little less than $20,000 under slot value. Gordon’s lack of ideal velocity hurt him in those negotiations — he’ll have to continue to rely on his command and ability to change speeds to progress through the Chicago organization.

RHP Travis Sthele selected No. 345 by the Washington Nationals

Inconsistent at Texas but possessing the type of stuff that scouts covet, Sthele had leverage to return to the Forty Acres as a redshirt sophomore, but signed quickly with the Nationals. Although the salary figure for Sthele wasn’t reported and 12th-round picks don’t have an assigned slot value, Sthele profiles as one of the selections who allowed Washington to go over slot with earlier picks like Sykora.

RHP Zane Morehouse selected No. 428 by the Cleveland Guardians

More consistent and with better pure stuff than Sthele, Morehouse’s age hurt him in the draft process — he’ll turn 24 this year — making it unlikely that he’d return to Texas. The value of Morehouse’s contract was not reported.

C Garret Guillemette selected No. 464 by the Houston Astros

The USC transfer is a solid defensive catcher whose power developed during his season at Texas and could provide good value for Houston if his positive trajectory continues. The value of Guillemette’s contract was not reported.

RHP Tanner Witt selected No. 541 by the Baltimore Orioles

Witt’s struggles returning from Tommy John surgery increased pre-draft speculation that the fourth-generation Longhorn would return for a fourth season at Texas and his fall in the draft drastically increased that possibility before Baltimore took a chance on him late in the draft. The gambit didn’t pay off for the Orioles, as Witt announced his return to Texas the following day.

On Thursday, Baseball America named Witt “the most notable unsigned drafted college player.” Securing Witt’s return by itself would make the 2023 MLB Draft successful for the Longhorns. Combined with the decision by top-100 prospect Will Gasparino, an outfielder from California, to play college baseball and the return of right-hander Lebarron Johnson Jr. for his redshirt junior season, the Longhorns were a major winner in the draft.

Even the returns in the margins were positive for Pearce and his staff with signee Casey Borba falling out of the draft and undrafted players like third baseman Peyton Powell, second baseman Jack O’Dowd, and left fielder Porter Brown also announcing their returns.