Three Jackets taken in MLB Draft

Justyn Henry-Malloy prepares to field this past season. The third baseman was drafted in the sixth round by the Braves after posting an impressive slashline in 2021. He joins two other Jackets in this year’s draft. // Photo by Taylor Gray Student Publications

For the 41st consecutive year, Tech baseball had a player selected in the MLB Draft. Three total players were taken from the Tech team that made the NCAA regionals in 2021. This extended a streak to 21 years of multiple Jackets being selected in the draft.

A pair of Jackets will be staying close to Atlanta as the Braves took junior shortstop Luke Waddell in the fifth round with the 157th pick. Atlanta followed that selection up in the sixth round by taking sophomore Justyn Henry-Malloy with the 187th overall pick. Junior left-handed pitcher Brant Hurter was selected by the Detroit Tigers eight picks later at 195th overall.

Waddell captained and started every game for Tech in 2021, leading the team to their ACC Coastal division win. He hit for .300 for his third consecutive season, compiling a slashline of .309/.402/.474 on the year. He had 21 extra base hits, including eight homers, and tied for the team lead in stolen bases. His 16 strikeouts were far and away the fewest of any starter, and his strikeout rate of 14.4 at-bats per strikeout was sixth nationwide and led the ACC. Waddell also paced the team in assists, fielding well from his shortstop position. His efforts earned him a first-team All-ACC selection in 2021.

Henry-Malloy played every game for Tech this season after transferring from Vanderbilt. He hit for both power and percentage, shown by his slashline of .308/.436/.558. His 29 extra base hits were second on the team, and he was one of the best in the country at drawing walks, co-leading the ACC with 46. He drove in 43 RBIs and earned a third-team All-ACC nod.

Hurter rebounded from Tommy John surgery that cost him his entire 2020 season to cement Tech’s starting rotation. The junior led all regular starters in ERA with his 3.90 mark, and his 85.1 innings pitched were the most by any Tech player. He held opponents to a .253 batting average and struck out 83 batters compared to only 19 walks. His 5-4 record gave him a team-best record among players with at least four decisions. Hurter was a second-team All-ACC selection for 2021.

Tech had a young team last year, with Austin Wilhite the only player listed as a senior. This gives the 2022 team continuity with most players returning. A few of this season’s notables may hear their names called in the 2022 draft, including sophomore catcher Kevin Parada, sophomore infielder Drew Compton and sophomore RHP Zach Maxwell.

Parada was Tech’s starting catcher after coming in as its top recruit. He was one of Tech’s best in batting average, extra base hits, total bases and putouts while also finishing tied for second in RBIs. He is a top prospect for the 2022 MLB Draft on many draft boards as his high fielding percentage and good bat skills give him a well-rounded game.

Compton is another highly ranked prospect for 2022 after hitting well and manning both third and first base for stretches this season. He had the third most putouts and only committed three errors. His 13 home runs led the team and his .567 slugging percentage paced all starters. He is a top-100 prospect by some sites for 2022.

Maxwell led relievers in most major categories, including appearances, wins, saves, opponent batting average, strikeouts and ERA. He allowed less than one hit per appearance and struck out 1.75 batters per inning. His fastball reaches into the upper 90s, giving him MLB-level velocity and a chance to be selected early in next year’s draft. He is ranked as Tech’s top pitching prospect for the 2022 draft on the back of his control and velocity.