What Does The Upcoming MLB Draft Hold For WVU Baseball?
By: Kevin Kinder
With the start of the Major League Baseball draft just one day away, college teams across the nation are waiting with varying degrees of trepidation. The results of the draft, which runs from Jun 12-14, and the decisions of the players selected, will have huge impacts on those schools’ outlooks for the 2018 season.
The timing of the baseball draft makes rebuilding rosters more difficult than in many other collegiate sports. With the draft taking place in early June, juxatposed with baseball’s signing periods that occur mostly before the draft, a school might think it has an excellent roster built, only to see it melt away in a welter of draft choices. This recruiting year’s signing periods ran from Nov. 9-16, 2016, and began again on April 12 of this year.
With that background in mind, what might happen to WVU during the draft, and how many of its underclassmen might it lose?
First, the Mountaineers lose its pair of Jack(sons), Cramer and Signman. Both are seniors and have exhausted their eligibility. That leaves five players that are eligible to be selected, and could opt, with a high enough selection that equates to more money, to move on to the pros. WVU has no players listed in any scouting outlet’s top groups of prospects, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be selected. As we’ve seen in past years, it only takes one team to really like a player, and that can translate into a high enough pick to make him think seriously about beginning his pro career.
First, there are three pitchers. Weekend starter BJ Myers is the most obvious candidate, having compiled a 5-5 record with a 4.52 ERA in 2017, following a 2016 season with numbers of 5-3 and 4.50 . With pitching in short supply at all levels of the game, Myers will get consideration, but with a WHIP of 1.23 (that’s at the low end of the average to good range), he’s not likely to jump up high above his other numbers. There’s the balancer, though, of getting an extra season at the start of his career, which we’ve seen come into play for the basketball team each of the past two seasons.
Next is Conner Dotson, who was injured after breaking his arm while warming up for a scheduled start against Oklahoma State on Apr. 2. Dotson was 3-3 at the time with a 5.53 ERA, but of more import to major league teams is his injury status. The last official word from WVU was that he was expected to make a full recovery, but it’s tough to think that a major league club would take a chance at this point with him just a couple of months removed from surgery.
The third pitcher who is eligible to be drafted is Shane Ennis, who was sporadically used this year. In seven appearances, he was 1-0 with a 3.68 ERA, but his 11 walks in 14 innings is a negative. He’s likely to be back at West Virginia next year.
A pair of position players wind up the list. Shortstop Jimmy Galusky is a hometown favorite, but his hitting style and .244 batting average will be concerns for pro front offices. He’s effective for the Mountaineers, but it’s tough to see him going out early.
That leaves Kyle Davis, and this one could go either way. With a .316 batting average and 10 home runs, he has plenty of pop, and his 44 RBI tied for second on the team. He also added 13 doubles and three triples in 2017, showing that he’s not just a deep fly hitter, but a player that drives the ball into gaps and over the heads of outfielders. He started every game for WVU this year, and did not ground into a double play in 234 at-bats, although he did strike out 47 times.
Davis and Myers are probably the two most likely players to get drafted in a position that gives them something to think about. While losing just a couple of players isn’t a big hit in terms of numbers, that duo would be anchors of the team in 2018, and the loss of either would sting.
West Virginia signed eight players in its fall recruiting class, and could add more if the roster is dinged by any early departures. That is par for the course for head coach Randy Mazey, who has often been able to swoop in late to snare a player during the spring and summer signing period after the draft is concluded.
Of the class, all of whom are eligible to be selected, right handed pitcher Will Reed is the most highly regarded, at least in draft circles. The Virginia native played at Harford Community College this year, and is in the Top 250 of Baseball America’s draft rankings.