The MLB first-year player draft took place last week, with round one on June 10 and round two through five following on June 11. Although the draft this year was shortened from the usual 40 rounds to five as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Tech baseball continued their remarkable run of draft success as junior outfielders Michael Guldberg and Baron Radcliff were selected in the third and fifth rounds respectively. This marked the fortieth consecutive year that a Jacket had his name called in the draft.
Guldberg, coming off a 2020 season where he hit a blistering .450/.521/.533 with nine RBIs during the shortened 2020 season, went 98th overall to the Oakland Athletics. During his career at Tech, he established himself was a great contact hitter, hitting .350 in all three seasons as a Jacket. Though he was primarily a designated hitter, Guldberg would also play in the outfield when needed, proving himself to be quite reliable as he compiled a fielding percentage of .982 with only two total errors over his three-year career.
Radcliff followed two rounds later, going 146th overall to the Philadelphia Phillies. He was a pure power hitter during his time at Tech, posting a .259/.394/.552 slashline this past season while hitting three home runs and driving in seventeen runs. A consistent fielder himself, Radcliff posted a career fielding percentage of .962 to go with his impressive slugging. Originally drafted in the 40th round by the Braves in 2017, Radcliff chose instead to pursue college baseball, and the decision has seemingly paid off with a significantly improved draft slot.
Joining Radcliff in the Phillies organization is Jonathan Hughes, who signed with the organization as an undrafted free agent the week after the draft. Posting a 2-1 record and a 4.15 ERA over a team-high 21.2 innings, Hughes would have likely been taken in the draft were it not for this year’s truncated format. During the 2020 season, Hughes only allowed a .221 opponent batting average and put up 20 strikeouts to just six walks. Hughes finished with 15 wins over his five years at Tech. In addition to Hughes, shortstop Luke Waddell and pitchers Andy Archer and Brant Hurter were all highly ranked prospects who were no doubt victimized by the shortened draft. Waddell was a top 150 prospect according to both Baseball America and MLB.com and hit .300/.419/.417 with a homer and nine RBIs before the season was cancelled. Archer, a right hander, posted a 4.22 ERA this spring and led the team in saves. A top 400 prospect for the 2020 draft according to Baseball America, Archer will continue to try and improve his stock. Hurter, a lefty, missed the 2020 season after having Tommy John surgery in May 2019, which ended a great season where he produced a 2.42 ERA, an opponent batting average under .200 and a WHIP of almost one. Hurter was a top 300 prospect on Baseball America’s list for 2020, and if he returns next season in his 2019 form, he will hopefully be able to build on that ranking. Since all three players went undrafted, they will return to Tech for their senior seasons and will no doubt be a significant boost to the Jackets as they prepare for the 2021 season.