Texas commit Muller to mull over draft selection

Michael Shapiro

Kyle Muller has a decision to make. 

The Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas senior has racked up a litany of accomplishments in the past month, including the prestigious Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award. But the Texas commit is making headlines for more than just his high school success. He has solidified his status as a top professional prospect.

Muller, a lanky left-hander, was selected by the Atlanta Braves with the No. 44 selection in the MLB draft on Thursday. Despite not going in round one as many projected, Muller’s selection now places him in a sticky situation: attend Texas in the fall and join associate head coach Skip Johnson’s pitching staff, or head east to join the Braves. 

Before his selection by Atlanta, Muller declined to address his upcoming decision. 

“I’m not really focusing on that right now,” Muller said on Monday. “We still have two games to play left in the state tournament so I’m only thinking about that.”

Jesuit clinched the UIL 6A State Championship on Saturday, ending Muller’s high-school career on the highest of notes. He did not pitch in the season finale, but he did in the semifinals a day earlier, throwing seven shutout innings while striking out nine batters. And with the title game now in the rearview mirror, Muller is left to now decide where he wants to don a uniform next year.

Muller will fall in line with the majority of Longhorn commits if he chooses to attend Texas. Of Texas’ past 31 signees since 2014, 30 chose to come to the 40 Acres and play for then head coach Augie Garrido.

But Muller is different from the plethora of players to enter the Disch over the past three years. Standing at 6-foot-7 with a blazing fastball, the lefty compiled a stunning resume at Jesuit. He went undefeated in 2016, with nine wins and an ERA of just 0.33. 

“I’ve really worked on being more consistent with my delivery,” Muller said. “The name of the game is throwing strikes, and being able to do that as consistently as I have really helped me this year.”

Aside from the praise earned from scouts and members of various MLB organizations, Muller received approval from one of the best pitchers in baseball. Texas Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels presented Muller with the Gatorade Player of the Year award at a surprise ceremony on Monday and shared his thoughts on the Jesuit ace. 

“Guys like [Muller] have the energy and the focus and the determination to get to the top,” Hamels said. “It’s nice to give them a few words of encouragement and just let them go.”

In addition to Muller, four other Texas commits were taken in the draft. They will have until July 15 to either sign with their respective MLB rosters, or head to Austin. Paired with the possible early departures of catcher Tres Barrera, shortstop Bret Boswell and pitcher Morgan Cooper — as well as the hole left by senior pitcher Ty Culbreth — the Texas roster could look radically different in 2017. 

However, all eyes will remain on Muller as he makes his decision. Texas boasts one of the top baseball traditions in the nation, but the prestige of a top-50 selection will weigh heavily on Muller. For now, all the Longhorns can do is wait and see if their prized commit will ever set foot on campus.