The Top MLB Draft Prospects In Oklahoma
1. Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma (BA Rank: 32)
4YR • 5-11 • 190 • L-L •
Walker is one of the better pure hitters in the draft class and is in the midst of a career-best season with Oklahoma this spring, hitting .373/.469/.634 through 41 games with 11 home runs and a 13 percent walk rate. Each of those numbers are career-highs for Walker and speak to his impressive hand-eye coordination and pitch recognition from the left side. The bat will get Walker drafted because he lacks a true standout plus tool—unless a club puts a 60 on his bat, which is tough to do but might make some sense in Walker’s case—as a corner outfielder without blazing speed or a big arm. At just 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, it is difficult to project much more than average power for Walker, though he has already hit double-digit home runs this spring and hit seven in 53 games with a wood bat in the Northwoods League during the summer of 2016. Speaking of his wood bat track record, Walker has that as well, hitting .406/.479/.557 in the aforementioned Northwoods League, .280/.330.400 in a brief eight-game stint in the Cape Cod League last summer and an even more impressive .333/.417/.514 with two home runs and a team-best five doubles in 20 games with Team USA. Walker might not have an immensely high ceiling thanks to his lack of tools and corner profile, but college hitters who perform well seemingly always go high and Walker is among the safer bets in the class to have some sort of major league impact.
2. Kyler Murray, OF, Oklahoma (BA Rank: 77)
4YR • Rs. Jr. • 5-11 • 195 • R-R •
Coming out of high school in 2015, Murray was considered one of the best two-sport stars coming out of Texas in years. He has a familial history with both football and baseball. Murray’s father, Kevin, was a star quarterback at Texas A&M in the early 1980s, while his uncle, Calvin, was a big league outfielder with multiple teams. Kyler would have been a potential late first-round pick out of high school if teams had thought he was signable, but as a two-sport star he told teams not to draft him because he was headed to Texas A&M. Murray has covered a lot of ground since then. He was supposed to be Johnny Manziel’s replacement for the Aggies, but he transferred to Oklahoma after starting three games and playing in eight as a freshman. That made Murray eligible to play his redshirt freshman season with the Sooners baseball team in 2017, but his rust was apparent. He hit .122 with no extra-base hits while struggling defensively in left field. Murray went to the Cape Cod League briefly last summer and, after serving as NFL No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield’s backup last season (he threw 21 passes), he showed significant strides in his second season with the Sooners baseball team. Murray looked much more comfortable in center field this year than he did in the corners last year, as the easier reads of center allowed him to take more decisive routes and let his plus speed play. There’s still a ton of projection involved with Murray because scouts know they aren’t seeing him at his best. He has spent much of the spring splitting time between baseball and spring football practice, where he was battling for the Sooners’ starting quarterback job. Scouts have generally seen more above-average than plus run times from him, but many believe that’s because he’s worn out. Similarly, he shows a 30 arm right now, but he doesn’t get to work on his throwing arm for baseball because he is muscled up for football. At the plate, Murray’s development this season has impressed evaluators. He is showing much more advanced pitch recognition and plate coverage, impressing with his ability to battle to deep counts. He has 20-25 home run potential down the road, with the bat speed that gives him a chance to develop into at least an average hitter as well. Murray’s signability is going to be a tricky puzzle for teams. He has the leverage to demand a significant signing bonus to give up football or he could also look to sign a contract that allows him to continue to play football, something Anthony Alford, Kyle Parker and Russell Wilson have done in the past. But he could also opt to not sign and push any such decisions back a year—he’ll still be a redshirt junior next June. As such, he’s a tricky player for scouts to evaluate. On pure talent, he’s a second- to third-round pick.
3. Jake Irvin, RHP, Oklahoma (BA Rank: 140)
4YR • 6-4 • 190 • R-R •
A 37th-round pick of the Twins out of high school in Minnesota, Irvin is a three-year starter for the Sooners who has been one of the best pitchers in the Big 12 this season. Irvin has steadily improved in his three years at Oklahoma, culminating with his 6-1, 3.16 season this year with 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings as of mid-May. A big, 6-foot-6, 225-pound righthander, Irvin attacks hitters with a 90-94 mph fastball and a low-80s slider that has good late finish. Irvin throws strikes with average control and has shown the ability to locate and manipulate his slider. He barely uses his changeup, so scouts question how good it can be, but he’ll flash a fringe-average change in bullpen sessions.
4. Austin Hansen, RHP, Oklahoma (BA Rank: 234)
4YR • Jr. • 6-0 • 195 • R-R •
Hansen has been a reliable late-inning option for the Sooners this season as he attacks hitters with a little more varied assortment than most power relievers. He mixes a 93-95 mph fastball and a solid-average curveball and changeup. At his best Hansen will touch a 96, but that velocity usually tails off, especially when he’s working back-to-back days, which feeds scouts concerns about his 6-foot frame. His spin rate impresses teams as well.
5. Jonathan Heasley, RHP, Oklahoma State (BA Rank: 267)
4YR • De. So. • 6-3 • 216 • R-R •
A draft-eligible sophomore, Heasley’s results haven’t matched his stuff. He can touch 94-95 mph with his fastball, his power slider can earn above-average grades and he mixes in a below-average curve and change as well. But he’s proven very hittable this spring as he’s moved from a relief role to a spot in Oklahoma State’s rotation. Heasley’s below-average control needs to improve. He was 3-6, 6.72 at the end of the regular season with 86 hits allowed in 71 innings, 36 walks and 72 strikeouts.
6. Colin Simpson, C/OF, Oklahoma State (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Jr. • 5-9 • 224 • L-R •
Simpson doesn't have a clear pro position, but he has some lefthanded pop.
7. Cade Harris, OF, Oklahoma (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Jr. • 6-2 • 195 • L-R •
Harris can play all three outfield spots and gets on base thanks to an excellent batting eye (62 walks in 2018). He also had gap power and the above-average speed to swipe a bag.
8. Carson Teel, LHP, Oklahoma State (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Jr. • 6-1 • 175 • L-L •
Teel has had plenty of success this year with relatively modest stuff including a high-80s fastball. His feel for pitching should ensure he gets drafted.
9. Tyler Polk, RHP, Duncan (Okla.) HS (BA Rank: N/A)
10. Kyle Mendenhall, 2B, Oklahoma (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Sr. • 6-1 • 198 • R-R •
Mendenhall turned himself into a senior sign with the best year of his career. He hit .301/.349/.401 and can play a solid second base.
11. Logan Gragg, RHP, Connors State (Okla.) JC (BA Rank: N/A)
JC • So. • 6-6 • 195 • R-R •
Gragg struck out 10 per nine this spring while going 6-0, 2.06. He's a big (6-foot-6) righthander with a 90-94 mph fastball.
12. Elliott Cary, OF, Oklahoma City (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Jr. •
The son of big leaguer Chuck Cary, the younger Cary was a 34th-round pick of the Nationals out of high school. He missed the 2016 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, but was a part-time starter for at Oregon State before transferring. He has the speed and defense to be drafted if he can take a step forward at the plate. (JJ)
Rule 5 Draft Protections Show Teams Picked Wisely In 2017, 2018
When it came to drafting, teams seemed to do better than normal in the first round of the draft recently.
13. Chris Acosta-Tapia, OF, Oklahoma Wesleyan (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Sr. •
The top player in NAIA baseball last year could be a solid senior sign this year thanks to above-average speed and a lengthy track record of productivity at the plate. (JJ)
14. Devon Perez, RHP, Oklahoma (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Sr. • 6-5 • 200 • R-R •
15. Matt Kroon, 3B, Oklahoma State (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Jr. • 6-2 • 201 • R-R •
16. Dominic DeRenzo, C/OF, Oklahoma (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Jr. • 6-0 • 198 • R-R •
DeRenzo has impressed scouts at times, but he hit .150 this year.
17. Gunner Halter, SS, Seminole State (Okla.) JC (BA Rank: N/A)
JC • So. • 6-3 • 180 • R-R •
18. Dalton Reed, 1B, Seminole State (Okla.) JC (BA Rank: N/A)
JC • So. • 6-2 • 235 • L-L •