Razorbacks Mostly Intact After 2017 MLB Draft

The dust has settled after the draft’s conclusion Wednesday. And while the full effects of the draft on college teams won’t be known until after the signing deadline on July 7, this week did provide more clarity for coaches as they plan their future rosters.

Because MLB teams lose from their bonus pool the money allotted to a pick in the top 10 rounds if they don’t sign the player drafted with that selection, players drafted in the top 10 rounds will almost all sign—last year only Nick Lodolo (41st overall) and Tyler Buffet (seventh round) went unsigned in the top 10 rounds. Bonus pools are unaffected by unsigned players in rounds 11-40, but players selected early on the third day of the draft are also likely to sign as teams take advantage of whatever pool money they have saved in the top 10 rounds. Last year, 15 of the 150 players selected in rounds 11-15 went unsigned.

Alabama prep righthander Tanner Burns will likely be the highest-ranked player on the BA 500 not to sign. He ranked No. 38 and was drafted in the 37th round by the Yankees, but is firmly committed to Auburn. Burns tweeted Tuesday that he still planned to play for the Tigers next season.

We won’t know for sure what other stars will make it to campus until the signing deadline, but because the draft’s format rewards MLB teams for precisely knowing the signability of all their picks, it cuts down on surprises. With that in mind, we can look at how the draft impacted a handful teams around the country.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks had one of the best weeks of any college team. Sophomore righthander Blaine Knight (No. 87 on the BA 500) wasn’t selected until the 29th round, and will next year return to the rotation where he will team with righthander Isiah Campbell for a strong 1-2 punch. Arkansas also will get Texas prep righthander Bryce Bonnin (No. 73), as well as the bulk of its strong recruiting class even after recruiting coordinator Tony Vitello was hired away last week to become head coach at Tennessee.

Florida: The Gators have consistently reeled in top five recruiting classes under coach Kevin O’Sullivan. That requires going after premium prep players, some of whom will inevitably not make it to campus. Florida saw three commits drafted in the top 10 rounds, including Florida prep catcher Sam McMillian. But next year’s class will be headlined by Florida prep shortstop Brady McConnell (No. 39), who will likely be the second-highest-rated position player on the BA 500 to make it to campus. The Gators will also get back catcher/first baseman J.J. Schwarz (No. 374), who was not selected until the 38th round. Schwarz’s return to the middle of the lineup is a boon for the Gators.

Florida International: In coach Mervyl Melendez’s first year at FIU, the Panthers put together an enormous recruiting class, heavy on prep players from Florida and Puerto Rico. The banner class inevitably got picked over, with four signees drafted in the top 10 rounds. But FIU will still have a bevy of impactful players come to school, such as Florida prep lefthander Joseph Sanchez and Florida prep outfielder Andres Santana (No. 411).

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs had a mixed week. Outfielder Jake Mangum (No. 169), the 2016 Southeastern Conference batting champion, chose to return next year for his junior season after he was drafted in the 30th round by the Yankees. But Mississippi State had five recruits drafted in the top 10 rounds, including promising junior college players such as Reynaldo Rivera and Troy Bacon. Shortstop Ryan Gridley was also drafted in the 11th round.

Stanford: It is a testament to the allure of Stanford that the Cardinal navigated the draft as well as they did without a coach in place to replace the retired Mark Marquess. Ace righthander Tristan Beck (No. 41) was drafted in the 29th round by the Yankees, but decided to return to school after being sidelined all spring due to a back injury. He will get to play next season with his younger brother, Brendan, who is an incoming freshman. California prep righthander Michael Mercado was drafted 40th overall, but otherwise Stanford’s recruiting class should be intact for whoever gets tabbed as Marquess’ successor.

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