Four Longhorns selected in 2018 MLB draft

Travis Hlavinka

As Texas prepares to host a super regional against Tennessee Tech this weekend, four Longhorns received word they'd been selected in the 2018 MLB draft.

Second baseman Kody Clemens, who is believed to be one of the more coveted college bats in the country and the crown jewel of Texas’s draft-eligible players, was the first to hear his name called. On Tuesday, the Detroit Tigers selected Clemens with the first pick of the third round (No. 79 overall).

Clemens, the Big 12 Player of the Year and a first-team All-American, has been the cornerstone of Texas baseball in 2018. He leads the team in batting average, home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, hits, runs and total bases, and he is tied for the team lead in doubles. His .346 batting average, 21 home runs and 68 RBI are among the top in the nation. Along with his impressive performance at the plate, the Golden Spikes Award semifinalist also has a .985 fielding percentage and has been one half of 68 double plays, good enough for third in the nation.

Not until Wednesday did the next Longhorn hear his name called in starting pitcher Nolan Kingham. Kingham, a 12th-round pick (No. 352 overall) by the Atlanta Braves, was Texas’ regular Friday night starter during the regular season and flashed ace potential at several moments throughout the season. Believed to be an early-round pick after a much more stable sophomore season, Kingham fell in 2018 with inconsistent starts throughout the season.

In 2018, Kingham went 8–3 as a starter with a 4.10 ERA and struck out a team-leading 72 batters over the course of the season. This came after a 2017 season in which Kingham went 10–4 overall with a 2.84 ERA.

Texas’ next pick, starting pitcher Chase Shugart, didn’t have to wait very long after Kingham was drafted to hear his name called. Shugart, who transitioned to starting pitcher after spending two years in the bullpen, also heard his name called in the 12th-round (No. 370 overall) after being selected by the Boston Red Sox.

Shugart has had a similar season to Kingham in terms of ups and downs. Though he is expected to move back into the bullpen at the next level, Shugart has hit his stride late in the season and is making the Red Sox re-examine him as a starting pitcher. At 5–3 overall with a 4.39 ERA, his statistics are not going to blow anybody away. But as a pitcher who consistently throws a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, Shugart has potential.

The final Texas player drafted thus far and perhaps the feel-good story of Texas’ year, reliever Josh Sawyer, was chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the 16th-round of the draft (No. 488 overall).

Sawyer, a redshirt junior who had spent the better half of the previous two seasons on the bench with multiple injuries, had a phoenix-esque rise in 2017. The power-armed southpaw had his best season as a Longhorn after recording a 3.86 ERA in 26 appearances.

While most of Texas’ expected prospects this year are already off the board, the remainder of the 40-round draft concludes today, giving other Longhorns an opportunity to hear their names called.