Senioritis: Top Seniors in Draft
College seniors are normally viewed as afterthoughts in the baseball draft, the kind of players that can be had for a bargain price. But there may be more such players drafted in the first round this year than any draft ever, and little of it is for signability reasons. As many as three college seniors are projected to go in the first round, and a number of others are projected in the first five rounds.
Here's how Baseball America ranks the top 10 seniors for this year's draft, and where those players were drafted a year ago as juniors:
Brigham Young righthander Nate Fernley, the leading winner in NCAA Division I this year with 16 victories, signed a free agent contract this week with the Indians which takes him out of the pool of talent eligible for next week's first-year player draft.
As a fifth-year senior who went undrafted a year ago, Fernley was eligible to sign with any of the 30 major league clubs up to a week before the June 5 draft--once BYU was eliminated from the NCAA tournament.
"I took advantage of the fifth-year senior rule," Fernley said. "I felt it was right; it was a good fit. The plus side is I got to pick the organization and I'm excited to continue playing."
Fernley, a sidearmer with a low 80s fastball, led the Mountain West Conference with a 16-3 record, 3.12 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 152 innings. He will start his professional career with short-season Class A Mahoning Valley.
He was one of several prominent college seniors to sign before the draft, taking them out of the mix for this year's draft. Among those who signed were outfielders Brian Baron, who hit .443-2-47 for UCLA, and Greg Dobbs, who hit .428-10-62 for Oklahoma, and righthander Brandon Roberson, who went 13-3, 4.18 with 105 strikeouts for Texas Tech. Baron and Dobbs ranked among the nation's top hitters.
Dobbs signed with the Mariners while Roberson signed with the Astros. Baron signed with the Twins, the only team he was able to negotiate with since he was picked by Minnesota in the 46th-round of last year's draft.
Here's a list of fifth-year college players who would have been drafted next week had they not signed:
Player, Pos., College—Signing Team
Brian Baron, of, UCLA—Twins
Brian Birk, lhp, Twins—Marlins
Greg Dobbs, of, Oklahoma—Mariners
Dwight Edge, of, Tampa—Diamondbacks
Nate Fernley, rhp, Brigham Young—Indians
Kyle Nichols, 1b, Erskine (S.C.)—Diamondbacks
Fehlandt Lentini, of, Sonoma State (Calif.)—Astros
Corey Mattison, rhp, North Carolina State—Cardinals
Brian Nickerson, 3b, Dartmouth—Dodgers
Eric Reese, 1b, UCLA—Devil Rays
Brandon Roberson, rhp, Texas Tech—Astros
Pete Smart, lhp, Kansas—Brewers
Sam Swenson, of, Utah—Angels
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