411 on the Forty — Part Five: MLB Draft Analysis, which Longhorns will be selected?

10 Jun By
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With the Major League Baseball Draft beginning Wednesday night, many of the nation's top players will hear their names called in the event that for the first time will be limited to five rounds. Considering it will be significantly shorter than normal (it is typically 40 rounds), the number of players taken will be much lower. However, there are a couple of Longhorns, and Texas signees, who have a strong possibility of being selected this year.

Last week, we looked at three seniors and their chances of being drafted this time around. Today, we will take a look at three of the highest-rated Texas signees and one current Longhorn who are most likely to hear their names called, according to MLB.com, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo.

One reason the Texas baseball team's recruiting class was ranked No. 1 in the country by Baseball America was pitcher Jared Kelley, who was named the 2020 Gatorade Texas Player of the Year (photo courtesy of texassports.com).

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Pitcher Bryce Elder: The only current Longhorn on this list, he was UT's Friday night starter for the past two seasons. A strikeout machine, he led the team in K's in each of the past two years, fanning 32 batters in just four starts in 2019. His one flaw on the mound has been inconsistency in hitting the strike zone, but he seemed to have improved that in 2020, as he walked just seven all season. Here's what experts are saying about Elder's draft prospects:

MLB.com has Elder going at pick 109. That would put him in the fourth round going to the San Diego Padres.

Pitcher Bryce Elder (image courtesy of texassports.com)

Pitcher Jared Kelley (Refugio, Texas): Kelley signed with the Longhorns last fall, and has more than proven himself on the mound over the course of his high school days. Even in an abbreviated 2020 season, his final year at Refugio High, Kelley earned the state's Gatorade Player of the Year award for baseball after allowing no hits over three starts and tallying an impressive 34 strikeouts. He leads Texas' 2020 recruiting class, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation by Baseball America. However, unlike many of his fellow Texas signees, Kelley has a chance to be selected in Round 1, which could convince him to sign with the team that drafts him directly out of high school instead of taking the college route.

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According to Mayo, Kelley is projected to be taken No. 23 overall by the Cleveland Indians Wednesday night.

"There are some who consider Kelley to be the top prep arm in the class and he could easily go higher than here. The Indians could also look at fellow high school right-hander Nick Bitsko, (Ohio State catcher Dillon) Dingler if he’s around from the college bat side, or one of the remaining college arms."

Pitcher and Texas signee Jared Kelley (image courtesy of texassports.com)

Outfielder Petey Halpin (San Mateo, California): An experienced outfielder at the international level, having played for Team USA on three different occasions, Halpin said he chose Texas because, "Everything is bigger in Texas." Everything is bigger, including the level of competition for starting spots on the Forty Acres. With the talent Halpin brings in (ranked the No. 3 outfielder out of California by Perfect Game), it is not surprising that pro teams have already come calling.

Ian Smith of Prospects365.com, has Halpin going No. 64 overall, a Round Two selection, to the Seattle Mariners.

Fans can watch the draft live on ESPN, starting at 6 p.m. CT Wednesday, and 4 p.m. CT Thursday. Wednesday will be Round 1 and Thursday will feature Rounds 2-5.

Riley Zayas is a high school sophomore and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, College Baseball Nation and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports website. He currently serves as the Managing Editor of True To The Cru, covering UMHB athletics. Twitter: @ZayasRiley