While the Arizona Wildcats weren’t included in the NCAA baseball tournament, despite a torrid finish to the regular season, there won’t be a selection committee preventing them to be involved in the 2019 MLB Draft that begins Monday.
And it’s expected that several players with ties to Arizona will have their names called during the three-day, 40-round draft.
Junior infielders Cameron Cannon and Nick Quintana are the top Wildcats on the draft boards, with both potentially going on Day 1 when the first and second rounds are held. There will be 78 picks made in those two rounds, and both Quintana (77th) and Cannon (79th) are among the top 80 prospects according to MLB.com.
Cannon hit .397 this season, which ranked third in the Pac-12, with eight home runs and 56 RBI, while Quintana led the conference with 77 RBI along with 15 homers and a .342 average.
Those are the two sure-fire Arizona picks, as well as the most likely ones to end up signing. After that it’s much more uncertain.
The Wildcats’ other draft-eligible players include first baseman/catcher Matthew Dyer, outfielder Matt Fraizer and left-handed pitcher Randy Labaut, all of whom figure to get picked. How high, and what the signing bonus that comes with that slot is, may end up determining if they return to Arizona or begin their pro careers.
Dyer, a redshirt sophomore, hit .393 in 42 games in his first season with Arizona, having sat out 2018 following his transfer from Oregon. Fraizer, a junior, hit .412 in 19 games before suffering a season-ending hand injury in the first Pac-12 series against Utah in March.
Labaut, a redshirt junior, was 8-3 with 79 strikeouts in 85 innings in a tremendous bounceback year following his major health scare. In March 2018 he needed emergency on his left leg due to compartment syndrome, causing him to miss the remainder of the season.
Three other UA pitchers could also get drafted: juniors Andrew Nardi and Vince Vannelle and senior Avery Weems. Vannelle, a right-handed reliever, was Arizona’s top arm out of the bullpen with a 3.47 ERA in 36.1 innings.
There’s also the incoming Wildcats to keep an eye on, and several prep signees may be tempted to take the money and skip the mandated three-year stay in college. Arizona signed the No. 11 class in the country for 2019, according to Perfect Game, with right-hander Andrew Dalquist the top prospect.
MLB.com has Dalquist, from Redondo Beach, Calif. as the No. 65 prospect in the 2019 draft.
Arizona had six incoming freshmen drafted in 2018, with outfielder Nolan Gorman and lefty Matthew Liberatore signing after both going in the first round. Among those who decided to go to college was first baseman/catcher Austin Wells, who was picked by the New York Yankees in the 35th round.
That choice turned out to be a great one for Wells and Arizona, as he went on to hit .353 with five homers and 60 RBI and was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.
The first and second rounds of the 2019 MLB draft will begin at 3 p.m. PT Monday. Rounds 3-10 are set for Tuesday, with the remaining 30 rounds on tap for Wednesday.