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Previewing Texas Longhorns players and signees in the 2023 MLB Draft

The three-day draft and the subsequent decisions it produces will define the upside for the 2024 Longhorns.

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

Among the drafts in the three major sports, none compares to the MLB Draft in the “will they stay or will they go” uncertainty with current players and signees negotiating behind the scenes in the lead up to the draft and then during the post-draft signing process.

The 2023 MLB Draft, which begins on Sunday in Seattle at 6 p.m. Central on ESPN and MLB Network with rounds one and two and continues on Monday (rounds 3-10) and Tuesday (11-20) on, will be no different for the Texas Longhorns with several signees and a handful of current players set to come off the board before making decisions that will have a critical impact on the 2024 baseball team.

In previous years, the shortened draft and extra year of eligibility afforded by the coronavirus pandemic tilted the decision-making scales in favor of college baseball, especially when combined with burgeoning NIL opportunities. Now, with the pandemic-shortened 2020 season that afforded players extra eligibility well in the past, prospects in the 2023 draft class have less leverage, leaving them with more difficult decisions that tilt back towards the professional ranks.

Here’s a look at the players and signees to watch over the coming days.

Signees to watch

Round Rock right-hander Travis Sykora

The No. 40 prospect in the draft by, Sykora has always been the least likely signee to make it to the Forty Acres thanks to a fastball that can reach 100 miles per hour and a projectable 6’6 frame combined with strong intangibles. Skykora isn’t expected to fit into the Tanner Witt mold of a player with a strong desire to play college baseball for the Longhorns, but because he’s already 19 years old, he would be draft eligible again in 2025 if he opts to follow through on his National Letter of Intent. As always, if Sykora drops past his projected slot, it could signal signability concerns for MLB organizations.

Los Angeles (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake outfielder Will Gasparino

Ranked as the No. 75 prospect by, Gasparino could become another California outfielder to skip college baseball for the Longhorns because the raw power and athleticism in his 6’6 frame. Significant improvement from 2021 to 2022 put Gasparino in a position to make the jump to professional baseball and he seems like a strong candidate for it as long as the money is right. As the son of Los Angeles Dodgers scouting director Billy Gasparino, however, there won’t be immediate financial pressure put on the decision. Also notable — there are a range of opinions on Gasparino, including ESPN ranking him No. 156 overall.

Santa Ana (Calif.) Orange Lutheran third baseman Casey Borba has the 6’1, 205-pound corner infielder ranked as the No. 305 player in the draft. Borba is the son of the Orange Lutheran head coach and hit .353 with six home runs as a junior. If players in this range sign, it’s often because they’re given above-slot bonuses or are heavily invested in starting their professional career.

Texas players to watch

Redshirt junior left fielder Porter Brown

Brown arguably has the most options of any player on the roster — he could move on from baseball after five seasons, return to Texas, or try to play professional baseball as a late-round draft pick or undrafted signee. As a regular starter for the first time in his career after transferring to the Forty Acres from TCU, Brown hit 12 home runs and drove in 59 runs. But Brown is also set to turn 23 soon, so if he has professional aspirations, now is the time.

Redshirt senior center fielder Eric Kennedy

After five seasons at Texas, Kennedy also profiles as a late-round draft pick or undrafted signee. Kennedy helped his stock as a redshirt senior by proving that he can play center field and surpassed his career total of 14 home runs by hitting 17 in 2023, an impressive power surge accompanied by a 100-point increase in his slugging percentage. Speed is also an asset for Kennedy, although he was never a particularly consistent basestealer for the Longhorns, a detriment to Kennedy as a prospect.

Junior right fielder Dylan Campbell

The No. 171 prospect by, Campbell started slowly in 2023 while facing significantly heightened expectations before finding his rhythm at the plate on the way to setting the school and conference records with a 38-game hitting streak during which he raised his average from .229 to .340. A line-drive hitter with home-run power, Campbell raised his slugging percentage from .494 as a sophomore to .603 as a junior thanks to 19 doubles and 13 home runs. He also stole 26 bases and only struck out in less than 18 percent of his at bats — Campbell’s bat-to-ball skills are impressive and his takes advantage of them once he reaches base. In the field, Campbell hasn’t yet shown that he can play center fielder, his likely professional position, but he does have above-average speed and an elite arm that helped him produce eight outfield assists in 2023. Campbell is highly unlikely to give up his bargaining leverage and return to school.

Redshirt junior third baseman Peyton Powell

After only 30 at bats in Powell’s first three seasons at Texas, the Waco-area product had an unexpected breakout season, hitting .339 with 10 home runs and had nearly as many walks (37) as strikeouts (42). Since Powell isn’t an ideal projection at a corner infield spot, the possibility of returning and either playing another position like catcher or showing steady production at third looms as the most likely outcome.

Junior second baseman Jack O’Dowd

The Vanderbilt transfer showed flashes of the potential that made him a top-100 prospect in the 2020 recruiting class and had some especially strong performances late in the season, including a two-home run performance against Kansas and a home run against Miami in the Coral Gables Regional. O’Dowd is likely to return for his senior season in hopes of becoming a draftable player next year.

Junior catcher Garret Guillemette

While Guillemette isn’t among the top 300 prospects by, he is within the top 500 by after building on his solid first two season at USC by hitting .298 with 11 home runs — three more than his total with the Trojans — and driving in 60 runs. Guillemette’s power potential and solid ability behind the plate make him a prospect who should take advantage of his leverage when he comes off the board somewhere in the middle rounds unless he drops further than expected.

Junior right-hander Tanner Witt

Arguably the biggest storyline in the draft is what happens with Witt, who was considered a late-first round prospect in 2020 MLB Draft before deciding to attend Texas as a fourth-generation Longhorn. The decision paid off initially with a Freshman All-American season and a strong start to the 2022 campaign after moving into the weekend rotation as a starter, but Witt was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery after suffering an elbow injury and missed the remainder of the season. Instead of opting out in 2023, Witt tried to return to the mound with mediocre results, posting a 10.97 ERA in six starts during which he never lasted more than 3.0 innings or 44 pitches. still ranks him as the No. 76 prospect, but a return and the type of strong season he appeared set to produce in 2022 could once again vault him into late in the first round or early in the second round next year.

Redshirt sophomore right-hander Lebarron Johnson Jr.

The final Texas prospect in’s top 300 at No. 173, Johnson came to the Forty Acres as a raw pitcher with immense upside he started to tap into during a 2023 season that featured the high of throwing a 129-pitch complete game against Miami in the Coral Gables Regional that featured eight strikeouts. In Johnson’s final five starts of the regular season, he pitched 28.2 innings, notching a 1.88 ERA with 40 strikeouts. Since Johnson’s fastball reaches the mid 90s and is buoyed by a strong, wipeout slider and emerging split-finger fastball, the same upside that made Johnson a take for the Longhorns makes him an intriguing pro prospect who might not have much to gain from another season in Austin.

Junior left-hander Lucas Gordon

The Big 12 Pitcher of the Year in 2023 thanks to a 7-2 record with a 2.93 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 102.2 innings, Gordon isn’t regarded as the same level of prospect as former Texas left-hander Pete Hansen, who had similar fastball velocity and went in the third round last year. But Gordon is the No. 335 prospect by and has a proven track record as a college starter. The odds of the California product returning to Texas are extremely low.

Redshirt junior right-hander Zane Morehouse

Morehouse’s winding journey from Dawson as a member of the 2018 recruiting class took him to Bossier Parrish and then Dyersburg State with a year off for the coronavirus pandemic in between before arriving at Texas for the 2022 season. Morehouse spent the next two years as an occasional starter and overall inconsistent presence with strong stuff and erratic control. With seven saves in 2023, Morehouse was effective at times as the closer with 60 strikeouts in 57 innings, but also had a 5.21 ERA. At 23.5 years old, the clock is ticking on Morehouse as a viable prospect.

Junior right-hander Charlie Hurley

The other USC transfer for Texas struggled to find a consistent role for the Longhorns in 2023, starting five games and saving three more while posting a 4.42 ERA, but his command also faltered at times and despite having good tilt on his fastball at 6’8, it’s far from an overpowering pitch. Texas should have a strong chance to get Hurley back on campus for a senior season that could feature him in a weekend starter role.