After three months of uncertainty surrounding Major League Baseball, some players around the country will finally get a few answers Wednesday and Thursday when the first five-round amateur draft in league history unfolds.
The first round of the draft will start at 6 p.m. Wednesday and Rounds 2-5 will begin at 4 p.m. Thursday.
The three players associated with the UL Ragin’ Cajuns program figuring to get answers one way or another are 5-foot-11 junior shortstop Hayden Cantrelle, 6-6 senior right-handed pitcher Brandon Young and 6-2 signee right-handed pitcher Hayden Durke of North Vermilion High.
All three have heard from plenty of scouts in the weeks leading up to the draft Wednesday, but none really have a firm idea of how it will unfold.
UL senior right-hander Brandon Young was unflappable in his four outings during the abbreviated college baseball season.
“No, I have not (gotten clear picture),” Cantrelle said. “I don’t really know what’s going to happen. A lot of it is going to depend on what happens in front of me tomorrow (Wednesday).
“I’m trying not to stress out too much about things if I don’t have to. I feel like I’m going to have a good scenario in front of me no matter what happens.”
Conversations with many scouts give Cantrelle plenty of potential paths to getting drafted at some point in the five-round window, but there are never any guarantees in the draft.
“In my opinion, I have certain teams in mind, but I also realize not all organizations utilize their scouts the same way,” said Cantrelle, who hit .309 with 15 doubles, two triples, nine home runs, 31 RBIs and 28 stolen bases as a sophomore. “Some organizations aren’t as into the psychological profiles as much as other teams are.”
Whatever transpires, it’s a good guess Cantrelle will be watching. A huge baseball fan besides his own personal fate, the former Teurlings Catholic All-State performer will be viewing as both a fan of the game and a potential participant.
“I plan to pretty much watch every second of it,” said Cantrelle, who hit .136 in only 17 games before his junior season ended with the coronavirus. “I have a lot of friends that could be drafted as well, so I’ll be watching out for them too.”
The situation may even be more complicated for Durke.
Like most spring sports athletes these days, UL junior shortstop Hayden Cantrelle has a lot of potentially chaotic scenarios to ponder these days.
Because the coronavirus cut the high school season prematurely, cross checkers and scouting directors weren’t able to view Durke with their own eyes. In a typical 40-round draft in previous years, a talent like Durke would get picked at some point.
But with only five rounds this season, it’s even more difficult to predict how teams will react.
“Because of that, I’ve been told it’s going to be tough for an organization to write that check,” Durke said. “At the same time, they’re telling me that it could still happen. They’re not sure what’s going to happen on draft day.”
So much like Cantrelle, Durke has tried not to focus too heavily on the draft’s outcome in recent weeks.
“I’m still just focusing on doing everything I can do to achieving my goals and whatever happens happens,” Durke said. “Everything happens for a reason. Signing at UL was a great decision for me, so that’s a great option for me. It’s going to take a lot for me to skip UL.”
If the top-level scouts had seen Durke in the spring, they would have likely been impressed. In eight games with the Patriots, he was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, allowing just five this, two walks and struck out 20 in 8⅓ innings on the mound. At the plate, he hit .550 with three homers and 13 RBIs in just 20 at-bats.
Young, meanwhile, is on the other end of the complicated high school evaluation process in a five-round draft.
His senior season was off to a great start.
Because teams have less money to spend on leveraged high school standouts, there might be more incentive to scoop up a college senior in the fourth or fifth rounds instead.
Especially a college senior who completely dominated in his shortened spring season like Young.
The Lumberton, Texas, native was 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA in four starters, allowing just 13 hits and striking out 37 in 24.2 innings. Perhaps even more importantly, Young only walked nine after issuing 34 walks and hitting nine in 54.1 innings two seasons ago at UL.
If undrafted, both Cantrelle and Young have the option of returning to UL in the same classification as this past spring after the NCAA granted them extra years of eligibility due to the coronavirus shutdown.