North Carolina took a page out of Virginia’s playbook with a player from the Cavaliers’ back yard.
Stone Bridge High righthander Jacob Bukauskas (Ashburn, Va.) has emailed scouts in the area to ask them not to draft him, informing them he intends to fulfill his commitment to North Carolina.
Bukauskas’ letter, obtained by Baseball America, thanked scouts for investing time and effort to evaluate him, as well as trying to gauge what it would take to sign him away from North Carolina. He wrote, “When confronted recently with the timeline and logistics realities in front of me, I feel like it will be better for my overall personal development (socially, emotionally, etc.) to experience college.”
Bukauskas follows the example set in the past by Virginia pitchers such as Nathan Kirby and Connor Jones, current members of the top-ranked Cavaliers pitching staff who were potential high draft picks out of high school but asked teams not to select them. Kirby, in fact, went as far as to make sure that teams could not draft him by removing his name from the draft.
The 6-foot Bukauskas had re-classified as a member of the 2014 draft class last summer and was shaping up as one of the youngest players and hardest throwers of the 2014 prep class. Bukauskas owns one of the better fastballs in the class in terms of velocity, sitting in the 93-97 mph range and reaching as high as 98.
Bukauskas’ secondary stuff has proved less consistent than his velocity, with his changeup ahead of his low 80s slider on some days. But his slider has shown better in recent starts, flashing plus. Scouts who were buying on Bukauskas touted the consistent premium velocity to go with his youth (he’s 17) and improvement over the course of the past year, and saw him competing for a spot in the back half of the first round. Scout who were less sanguine on his stock still had him as a second-rounder and considered him a better fit as a reliever due in part to his stature and the effort in his delivery.
If Bukauskas lives up to his letter and attends North Carolina, he would not be draft-eligible again until 2017.