Prior to getting selected as the second overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, Bregman was a three-year standout for the LSU Tigers. A collegiate shortstop, his defensive prowess may have even outmatched his productivity at the plate. Since moving on to the major leagues, Bregman’s power at the plate may rank as a surprise, but his arm strength does not. We take a quick photographic journey into his collegiate days with a couple of videos mixed in-between. The 2018 MLB All-Star Game MVP has turned into one of Major League Baseball’s brightest young stars.
While at Arkansas, Benintendi -or in some circles known as “Benny”- became the first SEC player to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in one season. The former Madeira High School (Ohio) and Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year also batted .380 for the Razorbacks in a historic sophomore campaign. In 2015, he won the Dick Howser Trophy and was named the SEC Player of the Year. Benintendi went on to become the seventh overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft and quickly earned his keep in the major leagues.
We go inside the games of five players taken on Day 2 of the 2020 MLB Draft who could one day make an impact on major league rosters.
In the span of three seasons, Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin had a profound impact on NCAA baseball. As a sophomore, the former Trinity Christian Academy (Fla.) star batted .392 as the Commodores leadoff batter in 37 of the team’s contests. This came one year after the back-to-back All-SEC selection led the conference in stolen bases (22). The All-American third baseman started 52 games at the position in 2019, while also tallying 13 starts at shortstop.A probable Top 5 pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, Martin started at six different positions in 2018. Martin finished his career with a .368 batting average.
Henry -a 2019 Freshman All-SEC selection- finished the last two seasons as LSU’s unquestioned weekend No. 1 starter. The former 38th-round Detroit Tigers 2018 draft pick picked up six wins in just 15 career starts over that two-year period. Opponents posted just a .227 batting average vs. Henry the last two seasons. In 2019, he started the season on fire before being overcome with some wear-and-tear in his arm. Scouts lauded Henry’s ability to mix pitches and many expected him to be long gone before the Nationals grabbed him with the 55th overall pick of the second round in the 2020 MLB Draft.
Despite four victories, 2019 proved to be an inconsistent campaign for the former McLennan CC star at Auburn (5.97 ERA). Horn settled down considerably through his first four starts in 2020 (3-1, 2.08 ERA). In fact, the Texas native averaged 1.59 strikeouts per inning as a redshirt junior. In Horn’s final career start, he notched 11 strikeouts against Chicago State in early March. The White Sox took the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Tigers left-hander in the fifth round of the 2020 MLB Draft (142nd overall).
On the way to a 2019 College World Series title, perhaps no player had more of an impact on the Vanderbilt Commodores run than Hickman. In fact, the former Pope John Paul II (Tenn.) star produced a knack for striking out batters down the stretch in 2019 and led into the early portion of 2020. After striking out 10 Michigan Wolverines in the Commodores CWS game-clinching victory, he began 2020 with a perfect 2-0 slate (0.48 ERA) through three starts. In back-to-back weekend outings versus Illinois-Chicago and Hawaii, Hickman struck out a combined 23 batters.
While many scouts considered Martin capable of playing multiple positions at the next level, the back-to-back second-team All-SEC performer did not get taken until the third round of the 2020 MLB Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. Martin’s productivity was satisfactory through 15 games in 2020, but his overall career numbers (.311 BA, .545 slugging pct., 30 HR, 112 RBI) reveal his true value. In addition, he set an Arkansas freshman single-season record with 87 hits while playing the hot corner for the Razorbacks. During the 2018 College World Series, the Freshman All-SEC performer finished with a .357 batting average. This came months after earning 2017 Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year honors at Lonoke HS (Ark.).
In just three seasons, Lacy compiled an outstanding resume’ in College Station. He started the 2020 NCAA campaign with three wins in four starts (0.75 ERA) and finished his career with an impressive 2.32 earned run average. A lock to go in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft, the former Kerrville Tivy HS star (Tex.) was a 31st round draft pick by the Cleveland Indians in the 2017 MLB Draft. It should come as no surprise. His father, Phillip, was a standout tennis player at Sam Houston State and his grandfather, Dan Davison, was a halfback for Texas A&M. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound left-handed flame thrower could very well keep his nickname, “The Ace,” for years to come in the major leagues. In the process, he could become the Aggies second consecutive player to go in the first round of the draft (Braden Shewmake, Atlanta Braves, 1st Round, 21st overall, 2019 MLB Draft).
While Mace took over the Friday night starting role for the Gators in 2019 en route to eight wins, it wasn’t until 2020 that he really began to take off as the team’s ace. In 2020 (through four starts), he posted a 1.67 ERA in three victories. The 6-foot-6-inch right-handed pitcher has a repertoire that includes an 87 MPH slider and deft curve ball. The former Cincinnati Reds 2017 12th-round pick increased his draft stock while at Florida and has a chance to hear his name called in the first two rounds of the 2020 MLB Draft.