College Baseball Winners And Losers Of The Draft Signing Deadline
The signing deadline for this year’s draft picks passed Friday with few surprises. Only two players drafted in the top 10 rounds didn’t sign and much of the work was wrapped up well in advance of the deadline.
Now that the deadline has passed, we can see how the draft effected college programs around the country. Here are a few of college baseball’s winners and losers at the draft deadline.
The Tigers looked to be in line for a banner draft deadline when third baseman Edouard Julien and lefthander Jack Owen, both draft-eligible sophomores, announced they would return for their junior years. But the Twins, who drafted Julien in the 18th round, were able to change the slugger’s mind late with a bonus of $493,000. Still, Owen hung firm after being drafted in the 21st round by the Cardinals and most of Auburn’s recruiting class remained intact, losing just shortstop Gunnar Henderson. Lefthander Hayden Mullins gives Butch Thompson another premium pitcher to work with, and righthander Trace Bright, righthander Ramsey David, infielder Mason Greer and catcher/righthander Nathaniel LaRue all are coming to school despite being drafted.
The Gators’ recruiting class ranked No. 1 on signing day (when the class also included righthander Nolan Crisp and center fielder Jud Fabian, who went on to enroll in January). It lost a few premium pieces of that class, most notably No. 5 overall pick outfielder Riley Greene, but for the most part kept the class together. Lefthander Hunter Barco, ranked No. 32 on the BA 500, headlines the class and should provide premium impact. Florida also landed righthander Brandon Sproat, who was picked in the seventh round by the Rangers but became this year’s highest-drafted player not to sign. For a time during the draft it looked like Florida would come out even better, as righthander Matthew Allen, ranked No. 16 on the BA 500, fell out of the first day of the draft, but the Mets picked him in the third round and built much of their draft strategy out around signing him for $2.5 million.
The Yellow Jackets’ best news in the draft was infielder Luke Waddell, a draft-eligible sophomore picked in the 32nd round by the D-backs, choosing to return to school. He’s started the summer impressively with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team and Georgia Tech next spring gets one of its best hitters back in the lineup. The Yellow Jackets only had two commits ranked in the BA 500—righthander Zachary Maxwell (138) and outfielder Tres Gonzalez (245)—but it held on to both despite them both being drafted. Georgia Tech ultimately will end up with a solid recruiting class, having gotten the whole group through the draft.
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Michigan State had a chance to land two exciting recruits in outfielder Jase Bowen, a two-sport star who also would have played wide receiver for the Spartans, and righthander Chris Mokma, who ranked No. 476 on the BA 500. They were drafted in the 11th and 12th round, respectively, and signed for a combined $949,500. Had Mokma not signed, he could have teamed with his older brother Mike on the Spartans’ pitching staff next spring, but instead he will start his pro career. Michigan State has finished under .500 in the Big Ten for three straight years and could have used the boost adding Bowen and Mokma would have provided.
The Aggies’ recruiting class was ranked No. 12 in the fall, but it was hammered by the draft. Texas A&M’s top four recruits—righthanders J.J. Goss (33), Matthew Thompson (48) and Josh Wolf (54) and outfielder Dasan Brown (96) were all drafted and signed for a combined $7.1 million. Goss and Thompson were long unlikely to get to campus, as they finished last summer as the top two prep pitchers in Texas. But Wolf took a big step forward this spring to get on a similar level as Goss and Thompson, and Brown performed well for the Canadian Junior National Team against pro competition, helping push him into the third round. All four of the Aggies’ current players who were drafted also signed, including draft-eligible sophomore righthander Kasey Kalich and redshirt sophomore Mason Cole, whose comeback from Tommy John surgery has been a slow one.
Vanderbilt lands here because a year after so many of its draft-eligible players chose to return to school, all but one player—catcher Ty Duvall—drafted off this year’s team signed. That group included three draft-eligible sophomores in catcher Phillip Clarke, center fielder Pat DeMarco and lefthander Joe Gobillot. Furthermore, Vanderbilt lost three of its top recruits in outfielder Trejyn Fletcher, shortstop Anthony Volpe and righthander Kendall Williams. Fletcher particularly stings because when he reclassified from the 2020 class, the belief was that he would get to Nashville a year early. But no one will feel sorry for Vanderbilt. Overall, the Commodores’ recruiting class came out of the draft fairly well—they build their classes to withstand some losses to the draft, and righthander Jack Leiter, ranked No. 21 on the BA 500, didn’t sign and will instead headline their newcomers.