If you’re a college basketball fan wanting to know what life will be like when the NCAA eventually scraps the one-and-done rule, the MLB Draft offers a glimpse of what
could will be.
Unlike their basketball and football playing peers, high school baseball players have the option (once drafted) to skip college entirely and start working toward their journey of becoming major leaguers.
For players drafted outside the first or second rounds, there are pros and cons to either choice. Those that stay in college get to not only have the college experience, but will further develop their talents against high-level competition, likely increasing their stock. And while it’s a bit of a gamble, high schoolers who decide to go pro could potentially enter the majors at a younger age, jump-starting their service clocks to enter free agency in their early prime.
This past week, three high schoolers who are currently committed to play baseball at the University of Missouri were chosen in the MLB Draft. We broke down the three choices and tried to guess which decision they’ll make.
Jalen Greer (5th Round, Oakland Athletics)
Notable Numbers: In 2019, hit .314 with a .446 on-base percentage for St. Rita High School in Chicago, IL; has until August 15 to decide whether or not to go pro
Outlook: Greer is definitely an upside pick for the A’s in the fifth round, and there’s certainly a lot of upside. At 6’3” Greer has a frame that will be able to handle a lot of muscle as he hits a college (or professional) weight program. He’s known for his great arm and will likely be able to stick easily on the left side of the infield long term. His offensive numbers aren’t eye-popping now, but he’s got good on-base skill and likely some untapped power that will develop once he streamlines his swing and adds some more muscle.
Prediction: Spoiler Alert: This will be the decision to keep an eye on for Mizzou fans. Oakland went heavy on four-year college juniors in the first 10 rounds, meaning they’ll likely be able to keep some money back for the three high-school seniors they chose early. Greer’s spot is valued at $312,4000, and you’d imagine the Athletics will have to throw at least a few hundred thousand more at Greer to draw him away from Missouri, where he’ll likely get even better.
Unfortunately for Mizzou, that’s the most likely scenario. The A’s went heavy on college talent early, meaning they’ll be able to sign a lot of those guys at or below slot value. That extra money will immediately be thrown at players like Greer, who’d be able to secure a major bag right out of high school. Don’t count on seeing Greer in Columbia — unless the A’s short him, he’s likely off to the minors.
Jackson Lancaster (38th Round, Seattle Mariners)
Congrats Jackson on being drafted by the Seattle Mariners, but still just as prideful to be able to talk about the amount of work & dedication you have put in to get where you are!— Rob Scarbrough (@CoachScar) June 5, 2019
No travel ball needed, 1st game Corinth 7th grade team!!!
Love you.......Coach Scar pic.twitter.com/tEGTbjNIdW
Notable Numbers: Slashed a ridiculous .369/.460/.572 with five home runs and 32 walks to 27 strikeouts in just 187 at-bats; went 17 for 20 in stolen base attempts; pitched 26.2 innings and struck out 47 batters in the process for an irrelevant (but hilarious) 15.86 strikeouts per game
Outlook: As someone who doesn’t follow college baseball recruiting closely, I’m pretty floored at how Lancaster wasn’t chosen earlier in this draft. The dude played one season at Itawamba Community College and put up video game numbers as a two-way player. He signed a letter of intent with Missouri in the last few weeks, and looks to be a major part of Steve Bieser’s roster going forward.
It will be interesting to see how Bieser deploys Lancaster, who is clearly talented in the field and on the bump. He was mainly used as a reliever at ICC, and he’d likely have a harder time posting such gaudy numbers against SEC competition. He seems to possess an elite hit tool and speed along with some decent power, so his future is likely in center field, where he’s listed in Major League Baseball’s official draft tracker.
Prediction: Lancaster’s star rose in his one year at ICC, and he’ll have a much better chance at shining in a Division 1 program. Unless the Mariners throw a ton of money at him — which would be out of the ordinary for a 38th round pick — Lancaster should be a Tiger for the next few years.
Ben Pedersen (38th Round, Baltimore Orioles)
Duluth Marshall pitcher Ben Pedersen was another draftee today. The senior hurler was chosen in the 38th round of the MLB draft by the Baltimore Orioles. Photo by our Earl J. Ebensteiner. pic.twitter.com/GipwtIfkAU— MN Baseball Hub (@mnbaseballhub) June 5, 2019
Notable Numbers: Fastball sits low 90’s, topping out at 94 MPH in high school; 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA in his senior year at Duluth Marshall High School; 280 strikeouts in 202 high school innings
Outlook: Pedersen looks to be the next ace to come through a Missouri program with a long history of developing major league pitchers. He’s got the physical tools to do so, sitting at 6’6” with at least three serviceable pitches in his arsenal. Pedersen’s strikeout totals and win-loss records suggest he’s largely been able to dominate high school competition. Once he gets in a structured workout program, Pedersen may be able to get even more velocity on his fastball and work on mastering his curveball or changeup, both of which have flashed average-to-above-average potential.
Pedersen fell to one of the last rounds of the draft, which says that either (A) teams didn’t feel that they’d be able to sign him away from Missouri or (B) they want to see him against better competition before throwing more money at him. Any signing bonus Pedersen gets will likely be negligible to what he could earn after spending time developing in the SEC.
Prediction: Getting drafted out of high school is a nice feather in his cap, but there’s almost no chance Pedersen signs with the Orioles this late in the draft. Expect to see him in black and gold in spring 2020.