Following the 2019 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft, six of the seven Texas Tech baseball players drafted signed contracts to play professional baseball as the signing deadline approached on Friday.
Infielder Josh Jung earned the biggest signing bonus after being drafted by the Texas Rangers with the eighth overall pick. Jung received $4.4 million after signing with the Rangers with a year of college eligibility left on July 3, earning slightly less than his pick value of $5,176,900.
“Dear Lubbock, what a ride we had,” Jung said according to Tech Athletics. “Over the last three seasons, you have taken me in as one of your own and helped develop me into the man I am today. Through the good times and bad, I could always count on you to have my back. Memories of the ‘Raider Power’ chant echoing throughout the stadium still give me chills every time. Baseball brought us together, but it’s the relationships I had off the field that I will always hold special in my heart.”
Jung had an impressive season as he topped the Big 12 with 65 runs scored and 53 walks drawn, according to the Big 12. He also ranked second in the conference with 23 doubles, 58 RBI, 151 total bases and a slugging percentage of .640. Other notable statistics that ranked Jung at the top of the Big 12 leaderboards included his 81 hits (third), .473 on-base percentage (third), 15 home runs (fourth) and his .343 batting average (fifth).
“To the coaches, where do I even begin?” Jung said, according to Tech Athletics. “You took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to play college ball, and for that I am forever grateful. You will always have my respect and admiration for developing this program into a national power. For the infinite time you spent helping me hone my craft, I will never be able to repay you, but I will start by saying thank you!”
As Jung joins the Rangers organization, he will continue his career in Texas. Jung started his baseball career at MacArthur High School, traveled to Lubbock for collegiate ball and will now head to Arlington to start his professional career.
“To me, there are never any goodbyes, it is just a see you later,” Jung said, according to Tech Athletics. “Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my journey, I will see you all again soon.”
Tech’s lone senior first baseman Cameron Warren also announced his decision to continue his baseball career professionally on July 3. Warren was drafted in the 22nd round of the MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds with the 654th overall pick.
“Lubbock, you have become my home away from home,” Warren said, according to Tech Athletics. “You took me in as a local, and I’m thankful for that. Thank you for giving me my best friends and bonds that will last a lifetime.”
Warren dominated the Big 12 leading the conference with 85 hits, 79 RBI, 160 total bases and a .669 slugging percentage, according to the Big 12. In his final season with the Red Raiders, Warren ranked second in the conference with 62 runs scored, 18 home runs and a .356 batting average.
“Thank you for all of the kindness and support throughout my three years at Texas Tech University,” Warren said, according to Tech Athletics. “I am proud to call myself a Red Raider.”
Tech’s speedy outfielder Gabe Holt signed with the Milwaukee Brewers on July 2. Holt received the second-biggest signing bonus of the Red Raiders drafted this season as he earned $450,000, which is well over the 223rd pick value of $192,900.
“When I think about my two years at Texas Tech, I can’t help but feel blessed by this experience,” Holt said, according to Tech Athletics. “Coming from a small town in Georgia, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Moving halfway across the country seemed a little nerve-racking, but the support I received was unreal.”
Although Holt was not a junior, he was available to get drafted in the 2019 MLB Draft because he turned 21 years old in January.
“To Lubbock and Red Raider Nation, thank you for giving me a home away from home,” Holt said, according to Tech Athletics. “There’s no doubt in my mind I was meant to end up at Texas Tech, and part of what kept me going was your endless support.”
Holt led the Big 12 with 28 stolen bases and ranked second in the conference with 83 hits, according to the Big 12. He also posted a .318 batting average while scoring 53 runs as the Red Raiders’ leadoff hitter.
“This has been a dream come true for me, and I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my life,” Holt said, according to Tech Athletics. “Lubbock will always hold a special place in my heart, no matter how far away life takes me. Once a Red Raider, always a Red Raider.”
Tech’s Saturday starting pitcher Caleb Kilian signed with the San Francisco Giants on June 29 after being selected in the eighth round of the MLB Draft with the 236th overall pick. Kilian received the biggest signing bonus of the four pitchers drafted, earning $400,000 as is pick value was worth $176,300.
“I want to thank the Texas Tech baseball program for everything everyone has done for me,” Kilian said, according to Tech Athletics. “ Thank you to all the coaches for believing in a skinny right-hander and for crafting me into the pitcher I am today. Thank you for the opportunity to pitch at one of the best schools in the nation.”
This was the second time Kilian has been selected in the MLB Draft as the Baltimore Orioles drafted him in the 20th round of the 2018 draft. Kilian decided not to sign with the Orioles and continue to pitch for Tech after he said he had one of the best years of his life with the Red Raiders. With Kilian’s staying on Red Raiders’ pitching staff, Tech was able to make two consecutive trips to Omaha, Neb. for the College World Series.
“Playing at Texas Tech these past three years has been the best time of my life,” Kilian said, according to Tech Athletics. “Going to the College World Series twice while I was there was something very special and something I will remember forever.”
In his final year with the Red Raiders, Kilian started in a Big 12-leading 17 games and pitched in 96.1 innings, according to the Big 12. Kilian pitched a complete-game shutout for Tech and struck a team-high 89 batters out in his junior season. As the season came to an end, Kilian posted a 3.92 ERA with an 8-3 record at the mound.
“I have met some of my closest buddies at Texas Tech, and I have had so much fun with you guys,” Kilian said, according to Tech Athletics. “Those of you that are coming back, go win that whole thing! I will continue to play baseball for the San Francisco Giants organization, but I will always be rooting for the Red Raiders!”
The right-handed pitcher Caleb Freeman was the first Red Raider to sign with a professional team of the seven players drafted. Freeman signed on June 28 and received a $150,000 signing bonus from the Chicago White Sox after he was selected with the 440th pick in the 15th round of the MLB Draft.
Freeman only pitched in 16.1 innings for the Red Raiders last season, posting an ERA of 6.61 but the junior earned a perfect 2-0 record at the mound, according to Tech Athletics. The reliever struck 15 batters as Freeman could throw fastballs in the high 90’s.
Taylor Floyd was another pitcher from Tech’s bullpen to move on to the professionals. Floyd announced that he would sign with the Milwaukee Brewers on July 3, which would reunite him with Holt. Floyd earned a signing bonus of $139,700 after he was drafted in the 10th round of the MLB Draft with the 313th pick, which is slightly less than his pick value of $142,200.
“As I reflect on my time spent at Texas Tech, I can’t help but be amazed by the enormous impact such a short period of time has had on my life,” Floyd said, according to Tech Athletics. “Although I wasn’t here for very long, the memories made will forever be a part of me.”
Floyd made 32 appearances to the mound as he was one of the Red Raiders’ most reliable relievers, according to Tech Athletics. He pitched in 57.1 innings and struck 88 batters out, which is the most any reliever on Tech had. He also posted the lowest ERA on the team of pitchers who threw in more than 17.0 innings with a 2.51.
“Even though I will miss my time here, I am excited for what the future holds,” Floyd said, according to Tech Athletics. “I am grateful to the Brewers organization for believing in me, and I can’t wait to start my professional career. Best of luck to all past, present and future Red Raiders.”
With six of the seven drafted Red Raiders taking their talents to the professionals, one will wear scarlet and black next season. Right-handed pitcher John McMillon announced that he will stay at Tech for another season on July 12 as the signing deadline approached.
“Thank you to the MLB teams and scouts for showing interest in me during the 2019 season,” McMillon said, according to Tech Athletics. “A special thank you to the Tigers organization for drafting me. However, after prayer and consideration with my family, I would like to announce that I will return to Lubbock for my senior season.”
McMillon was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 11th round of the MLB Draft with the 322nd pick after pitching in 47.2 innings and posting a 3.40 ERA last season, according to Tech Athletics. He struck 67 batters out while at the mound in his first season as just a pitcher. In his first two seasons at Tech, McMillon pitched and played in the outfield.
“I have yet to perform to my full capability and look forward to further development under coach Tadlock and our tremendous staff at Texas Tech,” McMillon said, according to Tech Athletics. “Here’s to another season in front of the best fans in the country!”
With McMillon returning for his senior season, the Red Raiders will try to make a trip to Omaha for the third-straight season as they made it to the semifinal round of the 2019 College World Series and with a 46-20 overall record.