By Matt McHugh
The 2016 MLB draft wrapped up over the past weekend, and 12 of the 13 Big Ten teams had at least one player selected in the 40-round event. The one team that didn’t? Your Northwestern Wildcats. The team struggled all year, so it’s not much of a surprise, but surely that’s something head coach Spencer Allen would like to change in the coming years.
The first Big Ten player taken was right-handed pitcher Cody Sedlock out of Illinois, who went 27th overall to the Baltimore Orioles. Sedlock just finished his junior season, in which he went 5-3 with a 2.49 ERA and was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. Sedlock spent his first full year in the Illini rotation, after working mostly as a reliever in his first two seasons. His best pitch is his fastball, which sits in the mid-90s and can touch 96 mph.
The next Big Ten player taken was Nebraska outfielder Ryan Boldt, who went in the second round (53rd overall) to the Tampa Bay Rays. Boldt didn’t tear the cover off the ball in his junior season, hitting .288/.344/.416, but his great speed and defense made him a top prospect. Many scouts believe that he has the ability to stick in center field, and his raw speed and good eye helped him become a 2nd round pick.
Ohio State outfielder Ronnie Dawson was also taken in the 2nd round, as the Houston Astros picked him at no. 61. The junior had a career season for the Buckeyes, hitting .331/.419/.611 with 13 home runs and 21 steals. That performance earned him a spot on the First Team All Big-Ten, and while he doesn’t have the defensive abilities of Boldt, his newly added power make him an intriguing prospect. In his previous two seasons, he hit 11 home runs and slugged .454 and .465, respectively. His power-speed combination is one of the main reasons that he is a top prospect.
Overall, 40 Big Ten players were taken, although almost surely not all will sign. Many juniors, especially those drafted in later rounds, don’t sign with the club that drafted them, instead opting to return for their senior seasons.
Ohio State had the most players selected, with six selections coming from their program. Michigan was a close second, with five players drafted, including pitcher Brett Adcock who went in the 4th round (127th overall) to the Houston Astros.
Also, Northwestern recruit Leo Kaplan was selected in the 37th round (1,106 overall) by the Chicago White Sox. The outfielder from Harvard-Westlake High School in California will not sign with the team, instead choosing to play at Northwestern, according to the Daily Northwestern. Kaplan should be an exciting freshman talent and will most likely see regular playing time for the Wildcats in 2017.