As the Major League Baseball draft approaches on Monday, several players on the Texas Tech baseball team have proven their worth on the field this season, catching the eyes of several major league scouts.
“I’m just really proud of the whole roster, proud of the whole team, proud of the staff,” head coach Tim Tadlock said. “The way we went about this last month, really played really good baseball.”
Junior Josh Jung is projected to be drafted in the first round of the draft as he has earned national attention for his play on offense and defense, according to an MLB mock draft.
“(Jung)’s a guy that, you know, coming out of high school, out of San Antonio, probably turned down, you know, the fourth round and pretty much said, ‘hey, no, I'm going to Texas Tech.’” Tadlock said. “I mean, at that point, what really probably hits me is, you know, (Jung) believed in us, and there's not a lot of guys that have the guts in the fourth round, when their dream their whole life has been to play baseball for a living to, say, ‘I'm going to school,’ but the ones that do are special.”
Jung’s play has not gone unnoticed this season as he was named the Co-Big 12 Player of the Year as well as earning All-American status for the 10th time of his career after Collegiate Baseball Newspaper named the infielder to the second team on May 30.
“(Jung)’s a tremendous player,” sophomore pitcher Bryce Bonnin said. “He makes hard plays look routine. I sit on the mound; I laugh every time he makes a play like the ones he made (in the regionals).”
This season, Jung has posted a .340 batting average in 212 at-bats after earning 72 hits this year, according to Tech Athletics. Jung has also scored 59 runs and ranks second in the Big 12 with 53 RBI. He also leads the team with 22 doubles this season.
The San Antonio native was ranked as the best third baseman in the country by D1 Baseball in the middle of the season and Tadlock decided to move Jung over to shortstop as the team struggled to fill the position. Since Jung made the transition to shortstop on April 14 in the final game of the three-game series against West Virginia, the Red Raiders have gone 20-6 versus the 22-11 record Tech posted with Jung at third base.
“Could probably put (Jung) anywhere on the field,” senior first baseman Cameron Warren said. “Obviously, he's going to go tomorrow in the draft really high. He's a great player. He can hit. He can do it all.”
Along with Jung’s impressive season, Warren has had a breakout season in his final year of eligibility with the Red Raiders that have caught the attention of college baseball fans.
“A lot of people don't know this but in high school, Cam threw really hard,” Tadlock said. “And so he used to be a third baseman, believe it or not, and he's athletic enough to play a corner in the outfield. Anything he does from this point forward won't surprise any of us, I don't think.”
Warren leads the Big 12 with 75 RBI while ranking second in the league with a .367 batting average and 17 home runs this year, according to the Big 12. The first baseman also leads the Red Raiders with 80 hits and 60 runs scored in his senior season.
“I think (Warren)’s just the Player of the Year,” Jung said regarding who he thinks the Big 12 Player of the Year should have been. “He's had one heck of a year and (postseason), you see it every game, he's hitting a home run to put us ahead.”
On the defensive end, Warren has been just as dominant as he is at the plate. Warren leads the team with 526 putouts with a nearly perfect fielding percentage of .996. The Oklahoma native has earned assists on 24 outs while only committing two errors in the 59 games he has played this season.
Another Red Raider that is likely to get drafted is sophomore outfielder Gabe Holt. In an ESPN top-100 college baseball prospects list, Holt was listed to get drafted with the 95th pick.
Holt posted a .324 batting average this season as he tied with Warren for the most hits on the team with 80 hits, according to Tech Athletics. The outfielder has scored 52 runs this season as well but his speed is what has caught the attention of MLB scouts. Holt’s speed has helped him steal a conference-leading 28 bases as he has only been caught stealing three times this year.
Several pitchers are likely to get drafted, including junior RHP Caleb Kilian. Last year, Kilian was drafted in the 20th round but made the decision to return for another season at Tech and became the team’s starting pitcher on Saturdays.
Kilian has bounced back from the rough start early in the season as he posted an 8-3 record at the mound this season, according to Tech Athletics. He has pitched in a team-high 83.1 innings and 15 starts this season and has struck 72 batters out.
“I hadn’t pitched much early in the season,” Kilian said after earning a win at the mound against TCU in the regular season. “I think I just needed to get my feel back, but I’m kind of getting in the groove. I’m feeling a lot better.”
Along with Kilian, a couple of Tech’s relievers are expected to be taken in the draft such as juniors RHP Taylor Floyd, Dane Haveman and John McMillon.
Floyd has been one of the Red Raiders most reliable relievers this season as he leads the team with 78 strikeouts in the 50.1 innings pitched, according to Tech Athletics. He has also only given up 16 runs in his time at the mound, earning him a 2.86 ERA for one of the lower ERA’s on the pitching staff.
“He is a guy that loves pitching in the grease,” Tadlock said prior to Floyd’s no-hitter against Dallas Baptist in the regional round of the postseason. “Really I think he thrives on it. He was as good in the ninth as he was in the fifth, you could probably say. He's got really good stuff. I guess if any of us had really good stuff, we would like pitching then too, so.”
Haveman has also had a phenomenal season as a reliever as he has pitched in 39.0 innings this year, according to Tech Athletics. While Haveman has only struck 52 batters out, the left-hander posts the lowest ERA on the team out of the players who have pitched in more than 15.0 innings with a 2.08. Haveman has only given up nine earned runs this season.
McMillon has proven to be the real deal as he had a slow start to his season at the mound. This season is his first as solely a pitcher as he played in the outfield in the in prior seasons. McMillon has shown he is ready for the MLB as he has been the only pitcher to top the radar’s with pitches in the high 90’s and low 100’s this season. His fast pitches have proven to be successful this season as he posted a 3.32 ERA after pitching in 38.0 innings, striking 52 batters out.
“You might not see what John McMillon is doing,” Tadlock said. “If you think you're going to see a hundred on that board, you might come to this ballpark in another 40 years and not see it. That's really special, and his rhythm and timing's gotten better. He's got a lot of confidence.”
The MLB Draft will start at 6 p.m. on June 3 as they will open with the first two rounds of the draft. The draft will follow on June 4 at noon as rounds 3-10 will be aired with the final rounds, 11-40, being announced on June 5 at 11 a.m.