The Major League Baseball Draft for First-Year Players is full of options for players, college recruiters and the pros. Here are the rules:
> High school seniors, junior-college graduates and third-year players at four-year colleges are eligible to be drafted.
> MLB teams have until early July to sign draft picks (the exception being college seniors).
> College juniors have the most bargaining power because they can use the threat of returning to school as leverage. In turn, college seniors probably have the least leverage.
> College coaches squeeze okole every draft hoping their recruits do not get picked high enough to want to sign. If a high school senior is picked in the first three rounds, the only college classes he will be taking will be online. Two years ago, Cade Smith was picked in the 16th round by the Twins, but opted to honor his commitment to UH. Last year, Jackson Rees turned down a chance to return to UH for his senior season and instead signed with the Blue Jays as an undrafted free agent.
> With the uncertainty of the draft, college coaches continue recruiting through the summer. Last year, Calvin Turchin committed to UH a few days before the start of the 2018 fall semester.
All of which brings us to this year’s draft. Consider:
> On Saturday, 6-foot-7 right-hander Dakota Engleman-Donovan struck out 15 and walked none in the JC World Series. He’ll have more leverage if he pitches well as a UH junior next year. But if he gets picked high, well …
> UH closer Dylan Thomas is considered a top-300 prospect. That figures to be in the 10th-round range, which means he’s played his last UH game. Thomas has a big-time slider that can cut to both sides of the plate.
> There wasn’t enough exposure for shortstop Maaki Yamazaki to be drafted last year. But he is one of the best-fielding shortstops in recent UH history, and he has demonstrated a nice contact swing. He was well regarded until he experienced discomfort making long throws a month ago. An MRI showed no structural damage. But will the injury impact his draft status?
> Ethan Lopez can play short, third and outfield. He has demonstrated gap power, too. He is deserving of playing at the next level. But as a senior, it’s difficult to predict where he will place in the draft.
> Before the season-ending shoulder injury, center fielder Adam Fogel was viewed as a solid draft choice. But his return months away, his pro arrival probably will be delayed until 2020.
> First baseman Alex Baeza drew tepid interest as a third-year sophomore. Baeza is expected to return to UH, whether he is drafted or not, to gain weight and improve his stock. He also is a year away from becoming the first member of his family to earn a bachelor’s degree. That’s important to him.