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LSU left fielder Daniel Cabrera (2) celebrates at the dugout after hitting a two run home run against New Orleans, May 14, 2019, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

Cole Henry’s brief, sometimes brilliant LSU career approached its end Thursday night.

As Henry watched the 2020 MLB draft from a loft in downtown Florence, Alabama, surrounded by friends and family, the Washington Nationals picked him 55th overall. Though allowed to return to school next season, Henry said during a conference call with reporters he plans to sign with the Nationals.

“It’s been a whirlwind of emotion right now,” Henry said, “but I think my plan is to sign.”

Henry, a right-handed pitcher, had leverage as an eligible sophomore entering the draft. He could return to school or begin his professional career if teams met his asking price.

Henry might have played another season at LSU if he fell past the second round and signing bonuses dropped into six figures, but the Nationals picked him midway through the second round. The slot value for the 55th pick is $1,307,000.

Less than a half-hour later, LSU junior right fielder Daniel Cabrera was drafted No. 62 overall by the Detroit Tigers. Cabrera fell off the board early in Competitive Balance Round B, a few picks after the end of the second round.

The draft — shortened to five rounds from the usual 40 by the coronavirus pandemic — finished Thursday night. Teams may sign an unlimited number of undrafted players to a maximum $20,000 bonus beginning Sunday morning. Players can sign until Aug. 1.

Also from Louisiana, Tulane center fielder Hudson Haskin went No. 39 overall to the Baltimore Orioles; Northwestern State pitcher Logan Hoffman got picked 138th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates; UNO pitcher Eric Orze was selected 150th by the New York Mets; and the Milwaukee Brewers drafted UL infielder Hayden Cantrelle with the 151st pick.

LSU almost escaped the rest of the draft unscathed. The majority of its current players and recruits remained available deep into the fourth round. Then the New York Yankees selected right-handed pitcher Beck Way, a junior college transfer, 128th overall. The slot value of the pick is $438,700.

Now that the draft has ended, LSU’s roster will take shape in the coming days and weeks. Some undrafted veteran players, such as junior catcher Saul Garza and junior infielder Zack Mathis, may receive offers to sign for the reduced signing bonus.

Other than Way and catcher Drew Romo, an LSU signee who was drafted Wednesday, LSU’s recruiting class stayed intact through the draft. Four players with draft potential — right-handed pitcher Ty Floyd, outfielder Brody Drost, right-handed pitcher Blake Money and infielder Jordan Thompson — were not picked. Coach Paul Mainieri said before the draft he expected any undrafted recruits to come to school.

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“In five days,” Mainieri said Wednesday on WNXX-FM, 104.5, “we'll have a good idea of what our roster will look like.”

Cabrera had the offensive tools team look for during the draft. He hit across the field with power, and his efficient swing translated to the next level. LSU expects him to sign professionally, ending his college career. The slot value of his pick is $1,102,700.

Cabrera arrived at LSU three years ago amid plenty of hype. Though he slumped his sophomore year, in part because of a right hand injury, Cabrera finished his career batting .305 with 22 home runs and 116 RBIs.

While LSU anticipated Cabrera would sign, it held onto hope Henry might have returned next season. Henry established himself as LSU’s ace during his freshman year, a role he filled during the Tigers' shortened 2020 season.

Henry made four starts this spring. He struck out 23 batters, allowed four runs and posted a 1.89 ERA. Henry didn’t pitch deep into those games, but he believed he had completed his best throwing session of the year when the season ended because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I think he has the talent to be a first-rounder,” Mainieri said Wednesday, “and I think if he came back to LSU for one more year, we'd be talking about Cole somewhere in the middle of the first round and signing for a bonus in excess of $3 million.”

Instead, if Henry sticks to his plan, he won’t pitch another game for LSU.

Henry dazzled at times during his two seasons. He struck out 12 batters against Florida his freshman year, the most by an LSU freshman since Alex Lange in 2015. He limited Texas A&M to two runs in eight innings. He recorded 10 strikeouts in a win over Texas.

Henry managed lingering arm soreness his freshman year, which forced him to miss the final month of the regular season. He then lasted two innings during the NCAA Super Regional because of a separate nerve issue.

While Henry delivered moments of brilliance, the injuries and a shortened sophomore season limited him to 77⅓ innings. Instead of continuing his LSU career, Henry can realize his dreams of becoming a professional baseball player.

“Dad,” Henry once said, “I want to play in the big leagues one day.”

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