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2023 MLB Draft: 2 former Arizona players picked on final day, none from current squad

arizona-wildcats-baseball-mlb-draft-chandler-murphy-riley-cooper-mac-bingham-tony-bullard-2023 Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images

After seeing four players get selected on Monday, twice as many as all of last year, Arizona did not have any current or future members of its team chosen on the third day of the 2023 MLB Draft.

The only players drafted in rounds 11-20 with connections to the UA were a pair of pitchers, both members of the 2021 College World Series team, who transferred from the program in the past two seasons. Right-hander Chandler Murphy went in the 12th round to the Tampa Bay Rays, the same franchise that took UA righty TJ Nichols in the sixth round on Monday, while lefty Riley Cooper went in the 13th round to the Baltimore Orioles.

Murphy, who pitched for Arizona from 2020-22 before transferring to Missouri, was 4-5 with a 5.47 ERA in 14 starts this season for the Tigers. With the Wildcats he went 10-2 in 37 appearances, 21 starts, including a 7-0 record in 2021, but his last year in Tucson was injury plagued and resulted in a 9.72 ERA over 28.2 innings of work.

Cooper, a true freshman on the ‘21 CWS team, went 9-6 in 62 appearances for LSU the past two seasons after pitching 29 games for Arizona. He was instrumental in the Tigers’ World Series title run, getting a win and a save in five outings in Omaha.

The selections of Cooper and Murphy mean 16 players from Arizona’s 2021 CWS team ended up getting picked in one of the last three MLB Drafts. It could have been more had a few Wildcats that were expected to get taken come off the board Tuesday.

Among those not drafted from Arizona were center fielder Mac Bingham, third baseman Tony Bullard, righties Trevor Long, Dawson Netz and Anthony ‘Tonko’ Susac and lefty Bradon Zastrow. All but Bullard have eligibility remaining and are expected to return to the Wildcats in 2024, though Bingham would have to withdraw from the NCAA transfer portal, a move he likely made for draft leverage.

Bingham batted .360 with 10 home runs and 51 RBI in 2023, all career highs, as Arizona’s leadoff hitter. He is a .318 career hitter and his 214 hits are just outside the school’s top 10 list.

The Wildcats were fortunate not to have any of its prep or junior college signees selected on Tuesday, which wasn’t the case last year when JUCO lefty Drew Sommers went in the 11th round and signed with Tampa. Arizona also lost prep shortstop Demetrio Crisantes to the Arizona Diamondbacks after they took him in the seventh round.

The only UA signee drafted was righty Blake Wolters, who went 44th overall to the Kansas City Royals and is almost certain to turn pro since his draft slot comes with a potential signing bonus of about $1.92 million.

Including Wolters, the Wildcats had six future/current players drafted. Chase Davis went 21st overall to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, while Monday saw a quartet of Arizona selections: Nichols, first baseman Kiko Romero (7th round, New York Yankees), righty Chris Barraza (10th round, Los Angeles Angels) and shortstop Nik McClaughry (10th round, San Diego Padres).

The five current players drafted in the first 10 rounds is one shy of the school record. In 2018 there were six Wildcats taken in rounds 1-10.