Michigan has sneakily been one of the best college baseball programs for years. The Wolverines rank third all-time in wins according to NCAA.com, as well as a pair of national titles (in 1958 and 1962).
There’s also plenty of representation in the big leagues. Rich Hill pitched for Michigan in the early 2000s and now starts for the Dodgers. The 1980s produced such MLB staples as Barry Larkin, Hal Morris and Jim Abbott. Of course, the legendary Branch Rickey managed the team from 1910-13 before helping Jackie Robinson break the color barrier.
The present-day Wolverines currently stand 27 outs from the national championship entering Game 2 of the College World Series tonight versus Vanderbilt (7 p.m. EST, ESPN). Much like their predecessors, they will be well represented in the MLB next season.
Let’s take a look at Michigan’s five MLB Draft picks from 2019.
Karl Kauffmann, Pitcher, Colorado Rockies
Junior pitcher Karl Kauffman was taken 77th overall by the Colorado Rockies in the Competitive Balance Round B of the MLB Draft. On the season, he is 12-6 with a 2.75 ERA and 106 strikeouts. According to MGoBlue, he also is a 3rd-team All-American per D1 Baseball, as well as 3rd-team All-Big Ten.
His most impressive performances of the season have come in the NCAA Tournament. He threw 8.1 innings of 2-run baseball against No. 1 UCLA in the Super Regionals for a 3-2 victory. In the previous round versus Creighton, he struck out seven and allowed zero earned runs to fuel a win.
Purple Row, the SB Nation affiliate for the Rockies, calls him a “back-end starter or reliever” at this time.
Kaufman throws a sinker that sits in the 92-94mph range that he couples with a slider. The slider is said to be “above average,” and one scout told 2080 that it “could get major leaguers out now.” He completes the profile with a less used changeup.
He is set to start either Game 2 of the Championship Series tonight or Game 3 on Wednesday.
Tommy Henry, Pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks
Henry was the first Wolverine selected at No. 74 overall, also in the Competitive Balance Round B. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts during the NCAA Tournament, including a complete game shutout versus Florida State in the College World Series.
Overall, the Honorable Mention All-American is 12-5 on the season with a 3.27 ERA and 135 strikeouts. Against an elite Vanderbilt lineup Monday night, he fanned eight batters in the 7-4 victory.
Baseball America stated that Henry has a solid mix of pitches in his arsenal.
Henry has a solid three-pitch mix, including a fastball that sits 91-93 mph early in games and a slider and changeup that both project as above-average offerings. He doesn’t have a high spin rate on his slider (2,200 rpm), but he makes the most out of what he has by creating good angle and tunneling the pitch effectively.
It would be interesting to see how much higher he would have been drafted if scouts got to see him after his dominant turn in the NCAA Tournament. His stock may have skyrocketed.
Jordan Brewer, Outfielder, Houston Astros
The Big Ten Player of the Year in 2019 does just about everything right. Entering the Super Regionals, the transfer from Lincoln (Ill.) Trail Community College led the team in batting average (.349), doubles (19), home runs (12) and stolen bases (23), according to MLive.
Plus, he threw out a runner from deep right field late in the Game 1 win over the Commodores. Bless You Boys states that the 6-foot-1 outfielder has “20-20” potential.
If he realizes his upside, Brewer will have at least solid tools across the board. He has well above-average speed and plus raw power, giving him 20-20 potential. He doesn’t try to do too much at the plate, using his combination of a quick right-handed swing and strength to deliver hard contact to all fields.
He was selected No. 106 overall in the third round by the Houston Astros.
Jack Weisenburger, Relief Pitcher, Oakland Athletics
Weisenburger possesses impressive physical tools at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. However, he hasn’t pitched since giving up a run and three walks in the one loss to UCLA in the Super Regionals.
With that said, his previous 23 appearances this season netted a 3-1 record with a 4.34 ERA in 29 innings. He struck out 30 and walked 18. This seems like a project pick for Oakland.
Jimmy Kerr, First Base, Detroit Tigers
Kerr’s claim to fame this College World Series has been two-fold. One, he is a Michigan legacy, as his father Derek played during the program’s last appearance in 1984. His grandfather John was around for the last national title in 1962.
The other part of it is that the first baseman has fueled a potent Wolverines attack. He has cracked three home runs in the last two games against Texas Tech and Vanderbilt, as well as eight RBIs overall in the series.
For the season, his numbers are still solid with a .277 batting average, 15 homers and 64 RBIs. He does also have 58 strikeouts. This earned him a 3rd-team All-Big Ten honor.