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Texas claims its largest draft class in four years, but will any draftees return in 2022?

Texas players Zach Zubia, right, and Ivan Melendez celebrate a win over Arizona State at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on June 5. Melendez and Zubia were both selected by the Miami Marlins in this week's MLB amateur draft. In all, seven Longhorns were drafted.

After playing 37 games at UFCU Disch-Falk Field this spring, some Longhorns might soon be calling minor league stadiums like Publix Field and Dozer Park their homes.

Seven Texas players were selected in this week's MLB draft, a three-day event that began on Sunday. Texas last had that many players drafted in 2017.

The Longhorns wrapped up their season at the College World Series on June 26. Two weeks later, six MLB franchises showed they liked what they saw during UT's 50-17 campaign:

  • RHP Ty Madden (Detroit, first round)
  • OF Mike Antico (St. Louis, eighth round)
  • RHP Cole Quintanilla (Washington, ninth round)
  • DH Ivan Melendez (Miami, 16th round)
  • RHP Kolby Kubichek (New York Mets, 18th round)
  • INF Cam Williams (Kansas City, 19th round)
  • 1B Zach Zubia (Miami, 20th round)

This spring, Madden was an All-American and Quintanilla was one of Texas' best relievers. Kubichek lost his spot in the weekend rotation but still posted a 5-3 record and a 3.86 ERA.

Antico, Melendez, Williams and Zubia accounted for 67.6% of UT's 68 home runs and 50.4% of the team's 417 RBIs. Melendez paced Texas in both batting average (.319) and home runs (13). Antico's 63 walks led the nation and his 41 steals were the sixth-most in school history. Zubia produced UT's second 60-RBI season in the last decade.

Of the Texas draft picks, only Antico has exhausted his collegiate eligibility. It is likely, though, that many others won't return.

The assigned slot values for the picks used on Madden ($2,257,300) and Quintanilla ($156,600) are significant. Williams and Zubia have both spent the past five years in college and Zubia was also honored during UT's Senior Day ceremony in May.

Draftees have until later this summer to decide whether they'll go pro or remain in school. Texas last had a drafted player return in 2016. Detroit using a 19th-round pick on pitcher Parker French in 2014 marked the last time that Texas retained a player chosen in the first 20 rounds.

Ahead of the draft, Melendez told the El Paso Times that staying at Texas was an option that he'd weigh. If he returns, he would have an opportunity to play the field and improve his draft stock that way.

"I'll work hard to get better and be ready to prepare myself either for professional baseball or a return to the University of Texas," Melendez told the Times.

In 2020, Texas lost four of its prized signees to the draft. None of the high school prospects from UT's 2021 recruiting class were drafted, though.

"All of these young men have great character and work ethic," Texas coach David Pierce said of his 2021 recruits last November. "They will arrive on the Forty Acres ready to contribute to the future success of Texas Baseball."

One year after the MLB hosted a coronavirus-shortened five-round draft, 612 players were selected over 20 rounds. In years past, the draft lasted 40 rounds.

The draft was also held at a later date this year. Last month, Pierce noted that the change in schedule presented a new challenge.

"Scholarship renewals are due July 1, or we have turned those in by the second? Then you have a draft that's two weeks later. You have the transfer portal that's become a major issue this summer," he said. "It's just a lot of unknown, and I think that's the frustrating piece of it is you want to be fair to your players, you want to make sure they understand where they stand. But at times, we don't know."