Draft Ends With Six State Signees Selected

They know the names, and have a good idea of the numbers. Now Mississippi State has five weeks to wait and watch for draftees to sign professional contracts…or opt for a college career at Dudy Noble Field. And one of the drafted guys is already gone.

Three more Diamond Dog recruits were selected during Wednesday’s thirty rounds of the Major League Baseball draft. They joined the same number of Mississippi State signees who were drafted during the first ten rounds of the three-day event.

It took a few hours Wednesday before the first would-be Bulldog had his name called. LHP Jared Padgett was selected by Chicago’s Cubs in the 26th round, #773 overall. As reported Tuesday, Padgett has repeatedly announced intention to play college baseball. He tweeted after the selection that his selection was a show of respect by the franchise more than a serious attempt to change his mind.

In something of a surprise, SS Delvin Zinn of Pontotoc, Miss., High was drafted in the 28th round and #833 overall. Again it was the Cubs calling the name. Zinn had not been rated particularly high by most scouting services. But, as was seen early and often over three days, shortstops are maybe the hottest non-pitching commodity of the 2015 draft.

Another sort of surprise, in this case because it took so long, C Elih Marrero was drafted by Cincinnati in the 29th round and #865 overall. The son of a ten-year Major League catcher, Coral Gables native Marrero had been regarded as a potential day-two draftee and to be taken in the first twenty rounds at least.

Of this trio Marrero still seems to be the draftee of most concern regardless of draft slot. His name had barely popped-up on the MLB.com screen than other Mississippi State signees committed to the college route were encouraging Marrero to join them on campus this fall.

Notable for not being drafted on the third day were some of the leading recruits Coach John Cohen is counting on to boost the program back to tournament stature in 2016. Juco 1B Nate Lowe avoided the draft, LHP Kale Breaux and C/IF Hunter Stovall—prep players of the year in Louisiana and Alabama respectively—had told franchise they were headed to State regardless.

However, the cream of the class was drafted and in three cases are expected to turn professional. State took a quick hit when 3B/RHP Austin Riley of Desoto Central, Miss., High was drafted Monday by Atlanta in lottery round A and 41st overall. Meaning, he will sign for the first-round bonus listed typically at $1,500,000.

In Tuesday’s seventh round RHP Gray Fenter of West Memphis, Ark., High was drafted #223 overall by Baltimore. His draft slot by published charts is worth close to $180,000 in signing bonus. In the eighth round outfielder Greg Pickett was selected #234 overall by Philadelphia. A native of Legend, Colorado, Pickett’s slot is listed at around $160,000.

UPDATE: Pickett has tweeted that he has already signed a contract with the Phillies.

Other drafted first-year players have until July 17 this year to sign with their club or go to a school.

There is one other noteworthy MSU aspect to the 2015 draft. After 1,215 names were called no varsity Diamond Dog was drafted. The last time this happened was in summer 1976. The closest to a State shutout since was in 1987 when only one Bulldog was taken, and that in the 33rd round.

But then the 2015 roster was short on players who would have been freshmen in 2012 or ’13 and due for drafting this year. The freshmen of 2012 were Matthew Britton, Preston Brown, Phillip Casey, Will Cox, Trevor Fitts, Nick Flair, Tyler Fullerton, Jonathan Holder, Jacob Lindgren, Brandon Woodruff.

Those last three, all pitchers, were drafted from State in 2014; and Lindgren is already working at the Major League level with New York. Having transferred to junior college and then to Tampa, third baseman Flair was drafted in the 34th round by the Angels. Earlier in the day a one-time State signee who never enrolled in 2012, pitcher James McMahon, was drafted as well.

Of that ’12 class only RHP Brown is still on the roster for 2016. That is if he opts to return for a fifth year rather than enroll in medical school as he has considered.

The 2013 group was even shorter on freshmen, and four of them did not make it to the 2015 roster at all. The rookies of ’13 were Anthony Anello, Cody Brown, Daniel Garner, Myles Gentry, Kyle Hann, Jacob Robson, and John Marc Shelly. OF Brown will be a senior bidding for a full-time starting job next spring, alongside OF Robson who many thought might be drafted this third year out of high school.

Bulldogs on the 2015 roster, all underclassmen, who were drafted out of high school were Robson (30th round 2012 draft), RHP Dakota Hudson 36th 2013), OF Reid Humphreys (36th 2013), and RHP Paul Young (21st 2013).

If Mississippi State does lose the projected three highest-drafted recruits, this would still leave 16 high school or junior college recruits in Cohen’s crucial seventh signing class. He was unable to sign any players in 2008 after his hiring as the preceding staff had given out all aid. Also, there are a reported four or even five invited walk-ons expected to enroll this fall semester and compete for a roster place.

A roster capped by the NCAA at 35 players or course, with 27 of them on athletic scholarship aid. And this sets up what will be an intense fall baseball practice period. There were 29 underclassmen on the 2015 roster. Meaning, a tentative fall roster of maybe 50 players which has to be winnowed by February to those NCAA limits.

Now with the draft done, the State staff can make better projections about the incoming class. They can also compare-and-contrast with active Dogs, not just by skills and positions but by classes too, and get on with tough summer decisions.

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