It’s becoming more and more well known that Texas Tech is an emerging power in college baseball. Even in a “down-year” (not getting to Omaha), Tech still wins 40+ games and gets close to advancing in the postseason. In 2016, Tech’s baseball team lost a ton of talent as both graduating seniors and underclassmen were drafted. As the 2017 year started, it was uncertain who would step up to fill the spots of Eric Gutierrez and Tyler Neslony among others. But now, we see that many young players have emerged as offensive forces in the lineup.
So as the 2017 MLB draft is taking place, and several Red Raiders have already been drafted, we wanted to take a look at some of players whose talent translates best to the next level, in no particular order.
Orlando Garcia - SS - Sr (2018)
Garcia has now in fact been drafted. He was selected in the 15th round by the San Francisco Giants. Now some people out there maybe wondering why he was selected in the mid-rounds of the draft after hitting .305 with 13 HRs and 62 RBIs? Well it’s a little tricky when a player still has eligibility left. Usually those players go later if there is any concern about the player returning or if they feel the player still has room to get better (scary thought).
In the case of current Atlanta Braves SS, Dansby Swanson... he was drafted in the 38th round out of high school by the Colorado Rockies in 2012. He declined and went to Vanderbilt where he excelled and in 2015, was taken 1st overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Each year is different and unlike the NFL where you have to declare to go into the draft and cannot return to college, if eligible, baseball players can decline the draft spot of a pro team and return to college. Either for a 3 year minimum stint out of high school or returning for their senior year. (Just a few years ago, before the rules were changed, players could be drafted every year from the end of their HS senior season to their college senior season.)
Garcia’s seems like a natural fit at SS or even 3B. At 6’2 200, he can play both positions with relative ease. Has a strong arm, good glove and the offensive production this year speaks for itself. More than likely Garcia will stay at Tech for his senior year and try to improve his draft slot. From 2015-2016 he basically doubled his production in about the same number of ABs. Because of that jump, MLB teams may be looking to see if this jump was an anomaly or if it is a confirmation of what they see watching him in the field.
2. Steven Gingery - P - Jr (2018)
Gingery isn’t eligible for the draft this year or he’d probably be a first day selection. If his has a similar year to the previous two, don’t expect him to stay in Lubbock for his senior year.
Gingery has an average “pro arm” sitting in the upper 80’s to low 90’s with good command of his off-speed pitches. His arm strength may improve, but the thing that jumps out about Gingery is his ability to command the strike zone not just trying to overpower the hitter with speed. He can work both sides of the plate and get his off-speed stuff over for strikes. All of this coming from a lefty gets pluses from the scouts.
In his two years at Tech, Gingery has gone 14-3 with a 2.26 ERA and a 2.83 K/BB ratio. Those numbers will definitely get you noticed at the next level.
3. John McMillion - P, IF, OF - Sophmore (2018)
McMillion will not be eligible for the draft for another two seasons, barring a rule change, but his frame and abilities as a true freshman this past year are hard to ignore. At 6’3 250 and sporting a 100mph fastball and the ability to launch mammoth sized homers, McMillion has to have pro teams drooling to have him be their next power pitcher or power hitter.
For pitching it’s his 1.75 ERA and ++fastball that pops out, but the 1.45 K/BB ratio is a bit troubling. If he is continued to be used as a pitcher by Tadlock, this is an area in which he’ll need to improve. Though low, it’s not unheard of to have a power pitcher have a high walk total to go with a high strikeout total.
For hitting, his .225 BA is suspect but his 8 HRs in 70 AB makes scouts smile. That’s a HR every 8.75 ABs. That’s steriod Barry Bonds area. The MLB leaders in 2016 were both over 13 ABs per HR. Now obviously, MLB is quite different from D1 baseball, but encouraging stats nonetheless.
4. Josh Jung - 3B - Sophmore (2018)
Like McMillion, Jung has two more years to become draft eligible, but that didn’t stop him from making an immediate impact as a true freshman. Starting in 62 games, Jung put up a .306/.395/.453 slash line to go along with 6 HRs and 43 RBIs.
At 6’2 215, he’s a prototypical third basemen who has all intangibles and skills to be a valued prospect in the pros. He reminds me a lot of Rio Ruiz, formerly of the Houston Astros who was drafted in the 4th round. If he continues to develop I can see him going in the Top 10 rounds of the draft in a few years (Much like Tanner Gardner).
5. Davis Martin - P - Junior (2018)
The last one on this list was difficult because there are several possible candidates and let’s be honest, Tech has more than just 5 pro-caliber players on this roster. But with pitching being a premium in the pros, I’m putting Davis on here because of his similar numbers to Gingery. Similar, but not quite as spectacular because Martin is a righty which is more common than a lefty. Coupled with his tendinitis issues this past year, scouts will taking a long look at him next season to see if it’s an ongoing problem or not.
Martin’s line is very similar to Gingery’s as I mentioned. 14-3 record over the last two seasons with a 2.70 ERA. Martin has a higher BA against than Gingery and Martin has a lower K/BB ratio than Gingery, at 2.64. Still a valuable prospect who is worth keeping an eye on.