For the first time since 2003, the year before Coach O’Connor took over, UVa baseball did not have someone drafted in the MLB Draft. Not an entirely fair statement since this year’s draft was reduced dramatically from the typical 40 rounds to just 5, but the statement is true nonetheless.
Also startling is this is the first MLB Draft since 2009 that the Cavaliers have not had someone drafted in the top 5 rounds. Under Coach O’Connor, that has only happened twice: 2006 and 2009.
Some could see those stats and be fearful that the program has taken a nosedive. They did not make the NCAA Tournament in 2018 or 2019 and were unranked, though 14-4 (2-1), when the 2020 season was stopped.
It could also be seen as a significant bright spot is on the horizon for the program and a return to the glory of years past is in the near future.
After 2006, the 2007 club went 45-16 overall, 19-9 in the ACC, and entered the season as a top 5 team lead by Team USA member and All-American Sean Doolittle, Casey Lambert, and Brandon Guyer. That 2007 team also had a plethora of stellar sophomores who were freshmen in 2006 that included Jeremy Farrell, David Adams, and Greg Miclat, who all went on to have storied careers at UVa.
Though the 2009 team did earn the program’s first appearance in the Super Regionals and the College World Series, the power from that team came from the freshman and sophomores like Jarrett Parker, Phil Gosselin, John Hicks, and Danny Hultzen, so not having someone drafted in the top 5 rounds was not surprising. Obviously that team would set the standard by again winning the ACC Tournament and making the College World Series in 2011.
This year’s MLB Draft did hit UVa as it has done in the past by likely taking away a talented recruit in Nick Bitsko, who was drafted No. 24 overall by the Tampa Bay Rays. However, with guys like Andrew Abbott and Griff McGarry going undrafted, it is likely they will return to Charlottesville for their Senior seasons. Both were having impressive 2020 seasons before the season was stopped and could anchor the pitching staff of a Top 10 program next season.
Virginia is not completely out of the woods yet as both Abbott, McGarry, or any other draft eligible player or recruit could sign with a team as an undrafted free agent, but anyone who signs with a team is limited to just a $20,000.00 signing bonus, which is significantly less than both are worth.
D1baseball has not released their 2021 rankings yet, likely waiting for the draft chips to fall, but Baseball America released their early Top 25 for 2021 and the Hoos check in at No. 5. Baseball America also has come out with predictions for the 2021 College World Series and UVa fans will like what they see there as well:
College baseball is in for a wild ride in 2021 after the NCAA relaxed the scholarship limits and MLB shortened the draft to just 5 rounds. UVa is going to have high expectations and could have a roster loaded like Charlottesville hasn’t seen in a few years.