Michigan Baseball: 3 Wolverines selected in the top 100 of the MLB Draft

(Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
(Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) /

Three Michigan baseball players were selected in the first three rounds of the 2020 MLB Draft.

As the 2020 MLB Draft got underway Thursday evening, all eyes in our area were on the Detroit Tigers and rightfully so, but there were three Michigan baseball players taken in the first three rounds of the draft.

It’s been the second draft that we’ve witnessed during COVID-19, and all eyes were attached to the television mostly because we are starving for anything live regarding sports.  The MLB draft usually takes a back seat on the professional sports scale, we often focus our efforts on the NFL, NBA, and NHL selections but the nation-wide sports halt, the five-round condensed MLB draft took center stage over the last two evenings.

Pitcher Jeff Criswell was the first of three Michigan baseball players selected over the first three rounds of the draft by the Oakland A’s 58th overall.

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Jeff Criswell is a big 6-foot-4 right-hander that played a pivotal role in 2019, leading the Wolverines to the College World Series behind his impressive 7-1 record.  Criswell fanned 116 batters in just 106 innings of work and posted a wonderful 2.72 era.  Criswell finished his collegiate career with 174 strikeouts in 162.1 innings of work recording a very respectable 2.88 Era.

The right-hander has a fastball that tops out at 97 MPH, but it’s a bit erratic at times. The Detroit Tigers initially selected Criswell in the 35th round of the MLB draft coming out of high school but opted to go the college route, and that appears to of been the correct decision.

Criswell becomes the highest-drafted Wolverine since 2000 when Dave Parrish. The latter was originally selected by the New York Yankees in 1997 in the tenth round but later again in 2000 by the Yankees during his re-draft with the 28th overall pick in the first round.  Parrish resided in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

The second Michigan baseball player to be selected in the MLB Draft would be outfielder Jordan Nwogu.

Jordan Nwogu, an Ann Arbor native, was selected in the third round of the MLB draft by the Chicago Cubs with the 88th overall pick.  Ironically, Nwogu and Criswell were roommates with the Wolverines.

The outfielder barely made the Wolverines roster as a freshman but became a backbone of the Wolverines lineup, often leading-off for Michigan for three years. Nwogu produced an impressive .334 career hitter with the Maize and Blue, notching 20 home runs in 125 games.  The leadoff hitter also stole 30 bags during his three-year career.

Nwagu is a 6-foot-3, nearly 240-pound outfielder that has the potential to turn himself into a power-hitting outfielder at the MLB level.  He’s a nice mix of power and athleticism but projects as a corner outfielder who will struggle defensively.

The third Michigan baseball player selected in the 2020 MLB draft was outfielder Jesse Franklin by the Atlanta Braves with the 97th overall pick in the third round.

Jesse Franklin earned himself a freshman All-American award in 2018 after mashing ten home runs and driving in 47 RBIs.  He also hit a whopping .327.

Franklin stands 6-foot-1 and just shy of 220-pounds.  During two years with the Wolverines, he’s recorded 23 career home runs and drove in 102 runs in 115 games, pretty spectacular.

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After playing plenty of centerfield at the college level, he projects as an excellent defender playing as a corner outfielder at the big league level.  Franklin will likely be an above-average hitter that hits for a decent average but lacks major league power.