Handful of Hoosiers could be drafted this week #iubase

The draft is a point of pride for Chris Lemonis.

During eight years as an assistant at Louisville, Lemonis saw 33 of his Cardinals sign professional contracts. In his first season as Indiana coach last year, Lemonis had six Hoosiers, along with two junior college signees, come off the draft board.

And as this year’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft stretches into the weekend, Lemonis expects another list of his players to be considered for baseball’s next level.

“We take a lot of pride in being a player development staff,” Lemonis said. “Throughout the year, we talk about ways to get to pro ball. We meet in the fall with a lot of our guys, and we meet throughout the spring. We’re trying to put them in the best possible position to move into professional baseball. It’s the goal of every guy in our clubhouse to play at the next level.”

Several Hoosiers, including current players and incoming signees, could soon have that opportunity. The draft begins Thursday with rounds one and two, continues with rounds three through 10 on Friday and concludes with rounds 11 through 40 on Saturday.

Senior pitchers Kyle Hart, Jake Kelzer, Caleb Baragar and Evan Bell have all drawn interest, as has outfielder Craig Dedelow. Lemonis also expects organizations to take a look at a few of his latest signees.

Only Kelzer has been previously selected. The Bloomington South grad has been drafted in each of the past two years, and was IU’s highest selection in 2015 when the Chicago Cubs took him in the 14th round. Kelzer ultimately decided to return to school, and, after working to a 1.32 ERA, allowing only 25 hits in 41 innings and boosting his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 4.00, the right-hander could come off the board as soon as Friday.

“I think he had a great year and a great finish at the Big Ten Tournament,” Lemonis said. “He was up to 94 (miles per hour) there. That puts him in a good position to go. I think coming back to school really helped him out.”

Hart, Baragar and Bell, the Hoosiers’ three weekend starters, are also in good position to continue their careers, likely as final day selections.

Hart led the Big Ten with 10 wins, often setting the tone for the weekend and helping IU remain in the conference title race until the season’s final weekend. Baragar finished fourth among Big Ten pitchers with an opposing batting average of .205, while his ERA of 2.49 was tied for fifth in the league.

“They’re two pretty good senior signs,” Lemonis said of the lefties. “They may have a chance to go a little earlier than expected.”

Bell also gave himself a chance to be drafted during the last calendar year. He followed a strong stint in last summer’s Cape Cod League with a solid senior year at Indiana, making 15 starts, walking only 25 in 85 2/3 innings and securing crucial wins in pressure atmospheres against Minnesota and Illinois at the end of the season.

“He had a really good summer in the Cape Cod League, which is good for your draft status,” Lemonis said. “I thought he had a solid year of us, and I think if he goes back to the bullpen, he may show a little more velocity. Guys see that. He was able to get a lot of innings under his belt this year, which was huge.”

Among position players, Dedelow is IU’s best bet to be selected. The junior was a Third Team All-Big Ten selection for the second consecutive season, leading Indiana in hitting (.302), doubles (16) and extra-base hits (23).

Dedelow may not be a high selection, but his consistent production, athleticism and projectable 6-foot-4 frame could entice a team to take him.

“He has a pretty good shot,” Lemonis said. “He’ll have to make a pretty difficult decision probably in the next week or two about what he wants to do.”

Junior first baseman/utility man Austin Cangelosi has also drawn interest, Lemonis said.

So have a handful of IU’s current signees, led by Penn right-hander Skylar Szynski. Baseball America rates Szynski as the No. 94 overall prospect in this year’s draft pool, and he could come off the board early — perhaps in the third or fourth round — on the second day.

“He’s gonna have a big decision,” Lemonis said.

Szynski is part of a recruiting class that Perfect Game ranks No. 29 in the country — the highest among Big Ten programs. Signee Jack Suwinski, a left-handed hitting outfielder from Chicago, is also well regarded in draft circles, as is left-handed pitcher Cameron Beauchamp from Peru High School.

Speedy outfielder Matt Gorski, a signee out of Hamilton Southeastern, worked out recently for the Detroit Tigers and catcher Jake Matheny, the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year, has a big league pedigree.

In the case of Matheny, the son of St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, he comes from a family that values the college experience. His father played at Michigan, while brothers Tate (Missouri State) and Luke (Oklahoma State) also went to school.

“All those kids have been at a lot of workouts the last week or two, bouncing around the pro stadiums,” Lemonis said. “The biggest thing is what price tag have they put on their college degree and the college experience versus professional baseball. Each family will have to make decisions.”