With the draft in the rearview mirror, the Tigers have quickly pounced and have signed 25 players to this point, and the Tigers should add Jonah Nickerson (7), Lauren Gagnier (10), and Adrian Casanova (40) soon after their respective schools are done competing at the College World Series.
The performances have been mixed for those who are participating in Omaha. Casanova went 2-for-10 in three games, but on Tuesday, he went 1-for-2 with a double against Gagnier, whom he could be catching in a few weeks at Oneonta. Gagnier has struggled in his two appearances in Omaha. He took the loss in relief against North Carolina on Friday, and was pounded for 12 hits and six runs over 6 2/3 innings against Clemson. Gagnier didn't figure in the decision, as Cal State Fullerton came from behind to eliminate the Tigers.
Andrew Miller wasn't his best against the Titans on Friday, as he gave up five runs over 7 1/3 innings of work, but he recorded nine strikeouts. Miller will get the nod for the Tar Heels either on Thursday or Friday, depending upon Wednesday's outcome with the Titans. Nickerson had a brilliant performance in keeping Oregon State alive on Monday, as he went seven strong innings and allowed just two runs and four hits against Georgia. If the Beavers can beat Rice a second time after the Tar Heels eliminated Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday, there is a possibility that Nickerson could pitch against Miller on Saturday in the opener of the national championship series.
UPS AND DOWNS
The draft can be a fickle process for players over the duration of their college careers. Dustin Richardson was a raw left-handed pitcher when the Tigers tabbed him in the 39th round out of Cowley County CC in Kansas in 2003. The Tigers didn't sign him as a draft-and-follow, and Richardson went to Texas Tech. After a rough junior year, Richardson flourished in a bullpen role, and became a fifth-round pick of the Red Sox in 2006.
Contrast this with Travis DeBondt, who was drafted three straight years (2003-05), and turned down the Tigers in 2004. DeBondt slid to the Tigers due to signability concerns, and reportedly turned down $150,000 from Baltimore to be their sixth-round pick in 2004. Despite having some intriguing tools both as a pitcher and an outfielder, DeBondt was inconsistent in his two years at Oral Roberts, and went undrafted two weeks ago, even though he would've made a solid senior sign.
After taking a medical redshirt, Ben Petralli (17) is back on the field with the Weatherford Wranglers of the Texas Collegiate League. He is hitting .250 with no homers and one RBI in 24 at-bats. He is teammates with Clay Britton, who was drafted by the Tigers in 2003 and 2004, and has the chance to be drafted for a third time next year as a senior sign with a good year at Stephen F. Austin.