The MLB draft in July gave higher growth in the College World Series

from Jake Mintz
FOX Sports MLB Writer

Someone made $ 1 million on Sunday night at the College World Series.

Three years ago, that would have been impossible. But draft-compliant Cade Horton, a 20-year-old right-handed pitcher for the University of Oklahoma, threw six great innings against Notre Dame on Sunday at the CWS, shooting 11 while running only one in Sooners’ -2’s 6 victory.

The only drawback was the hanging curve in the sixth, which the Irish hunter David LaMana sent to the left field. Horton jumped back immediately, hitting the next two batteries on a pair of devastatingly good sliders.

Horton’s fast ball kept Notre Dame uncomfortable throughout the evening, but was particularly electric at first, sitting in the 94-96 range with several mixed 97 and 98. Although speed declined as the night progressed, Horton continued to lack bats because his slider, a sharp two-plane monster with tons of depth, was out of reach.

At the post-match press conference, Horton revealed that he learned the grip on this slider only five weeks ago. Now that will almost certainly make him a millionaire.

For decades, the MLB draft took place in early June, usually during the superregional weekend, the last round of college baseball playoffs before the CWS. This created a strange window for the evaluation of the teams, as the regional games a week before the draft became a kind of final exam for the best prospects, with amateur scouts and cross-country skiers flocking to college courts across the country to see at a glance players of interest.

This timeline also made the college World Series inappropriate from a scout point of view. Teams saw little value in sending scouts to Omaha to watch players who were either (1) selected a week ago and not yet signed, or (2) could not be drafted for at least another 358 days. So even as the Nebraska Baseball Jamboree grew into the precious event it is today, with the best college baseball clubs and players battling it on national television in the brightest lights of the sport, it remained a backward thought of great part of the scout community.

Until 2021

Last year, Major League Baseball moved the draft to about a month ago, for the weekend before the All-Star Game in mid-July. Early feedback for the new date is mixed – people in the game noted that the month of the break between the end of the CWS and the draft did little but obscure the assessment waters and make the second half of July, with a trading deadline at the end of the month , indecently hurried – but there are a few positives.

While the MLB draft will never rival the noise of its NBA or NFL counterparts, the new date allows it to shine a little more and hopefully grow as an event. In addition, teams can receive a more complete assessment of the players, especially in terms of character, work ethic and make-up, as the extra month allows more one-on-one interaction with potential candidates.

As for college players, they don’t have to worry about the post-season draft, as they have in the past, with players sometimes being informed that they have been selected while on the deck of a super regional.

Above all, the relocation of the project has made college world series a key scouting opportunity, something that hasn’t been around for decades. Although this year’s eight Omaha teams are a relatively weak group in terms of potential selections in the first round (Horton, his teammate Peyton Graham and Brock Jones of Stanford are the big guys), the event skyrocketed in terms of its relevance to MLB organizations.

About 15 or 20 scouts were behind the home plate for Horton’s performance on Sunday. One team had three appraisers in the house. This is a huge increase from a few years ago. One scout mentioned that he covered the event for six or seven years, and in the past he was often the only member of the team present. This is largely no longer the case.

In this case, Horton’s story only intensified the meeting to watch his first start in Omaha. The best quarterback to leave high school, Horton hired OU to play football and baseball, but gave up on his dreams when he arrived on campus. In the fall of his first year, he received rave reviews from Sooner skipper Skip Johnson as a two-way dynamo, but then he broke UCL in January 2021, missed last season and was limited to field play earlier this season until is recovering from Tommy John’s surgery.

After spending the first few months of this season in third base, Horton returned to full-time rotation in early May, although it took several starts to shake off the rust before he could take a step. But in his last four starts after eight runs against Texas Tech on May 21, Horton conceded just nine runs in 23.2 innings, with 36 outs and six runs.

This sudden rise meant that many teams did not have the opportunity to see the new and improved Cade Horton in person.

And considering that the rash of hand injuries from a number of the best college girls made this project shallow for college, Horton is becoming an even more tempting proposition for teams to choose from in the middle and back of the first round. .

At one point on Sunday, in the scout seats behind the home sign, an evaluator whose teams were selected in the top half of the round turned to a scout from another team and asked where they would choose. Scout number 2 answered with a number greater than 15.

Scout 1 laughed, shook his head, and replied, “Stop wasting your ink. Leave the pen and go home. This child will not be around for you.

Most appraisers agree: Horton has increased his drafts in the last month and could very well go in the middle of the first round as one of the first players in college. His combination of athleticism, stuff and the fact that he never focused on performing full-time is quite a package. If OU beat the winner of Notre Dame / Texas A&M on Wednesday and advance to the championship series, Horton will probably make one last start on Saturday. If he pushes again, his shares will continue to rise.

This is a supersonic rise for a player that was a huge issue just a few months ago. Horton has moved from a talented but unproven pitcher who is likely to return to Oklahoma for his junior year to choose to score on the first day.

Its start on Sunday was the amazing sign, the proof of the concept, the creator of money, the pinnacle of its ascent. Due to the later date of the draft, Horton had the opportunity to show his talent on the biggest stage, under the brightest lights, in a situation with as high pressure as he has. He took advantage of this opportunity and probably made a good part of the change in the process.

Jake Mintz is the stronger half of @CespedesBBQ and baseball writer for FOX Sports. He is a fan of the Orioles, living in New York, and thus leads a solitary existence for most of October. If he doesn’t watch baseball, he almost certainly rides his bike. You can follow him on Twitter @Jake_Mintz.

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