The 2017 MLB Draft hit Texas — hard. As the draft concluded, Texas saw 11 of its players — tied for most in the country — get called to the big leagues.
Although replacing 11 players is a daunting task for any team, there was some optimism from the Longhorns following the Draft. Of the 11 draftees, only three were seniors. The other eight Longhorns had at least one more year of eligibility, giving them the option to return to the 40 Acres next season.
The eight non-seniors have until July 15 to decide between pursuing a professional career or returning to Texas with an opportunity to improve their stock. However, four of those players — redshirt junior Morgan Cooper, junior Connor Mayes, junior Travis Jones and junior Patrick Mathis — have already announced their decision to hang up their burnt orange jerseys.
So with four Longhorns still mulling their options, here’s an update on who Texas is losing and who has big decisions ahead:
Who Texas loses:
Second-round selection and Texas ace Morgan Cooper was the first Longhorn off the board as the Los Angeles Dodgers used the 62nd overall pick on the redshirt junior from Jarrell, Texas. The right hander was a calming presence on the Longhorns’ young staff last season, and his absence will be felt immediately. When Cooper took to the mound, Longhorn fans knew they were in for a treat. His 110 strikeouts were the most in the Big 12 in 2017.
Texas’ three seniors are also gone. First baseman Kacy Clemens (Toronto Blue Jays, 8th round, 249th overall), center fielder Zane Gurwitz (Los Angeles Angels, 26th round, 775th overall) and pitcher Jon Malmin (Los Angeles Angels, 31st round, 925th overall) will all begin their journey to the majors beginning this fall, leaving a sizable hole in terms of veteran leadership.
In addition to his leadership, Clemens made his impact most felt with his bat. He led the Longhorns in batting average (.305), home runs (12), RBI (49), runs scored (48) and hits (67) in 2017, anchoring a lineup that previously lacked a scoring punch.
Longhorns on the clock: Kennedy, Boswell, Johnston, Schimpf
Four Longhorns still have to decide whether they will make the trek to the big leagues or return to Austin in the fall. Junior infielder Bret Boswell is joined by three pitchers — Nick Kennedy, Kyle Johntson and Tyler Schimpf — who have until July 15 to announce their intentions.
We’ll start with Boswell, who has little incentive to return for his last year of eligibility in 2018. He was selected in the eighth round by the Colorado Rockies, and with the Longhorns projected to sport a crowded infield next year, his draft stock wouldn’t increase with a return to the 40 Acres. He is slated to leave the Longhorns after a 2017 campaign that saw him drive in 33 RBI, second on the team.
That leaves three pitchers whose futures are in flux. Both the sophomore Kennedy and junior Johnston were selected in the first six rounds, while Schimpf fell to the 13th round. Schimpf compiled an ERA of 1.56 in his 12 appearances while Kennedy finished with an 8–2 record. Johnston served as the Sunday starter, anchoring the Texas staff to close weekend series.
With 11 players drafted last week, the Longhorn roster is all-but-guaranteed to be far different next spring. But the scope of Texas’ roster overhaul won’t be known for another month. Now, the drafted Longhorns will face a pivotal question: Should they stay or should they go?