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by Michael Coker - Black College Nines

The first round of the 20BCNines Logo white ball20 Major League Baseball player draft will get underway on Wednesday, June 10th. Instead of the normal 40 draft rounds, the 2020 draft will be limited to just 5 rounds. Historically Black College and University (HBCU) baseball players could sign MLB contracts on draft day or find roster spots as undrafted free agents since the promising 2020 season came to an abrupt end due to the coronavirus pandemic this past March.

Black College Nines highlights some of the top HBCU prospects in the draft class based on our contact with scouts who attended HBCU and nonconference baseball games during both fall ball and this past shortened 2020 season. Below you’ll find a breakdown of the top five candidates in the draft, rumors, and draft tendencies used in our mock draft.

Last season, Bethune Cookman’s Anthony Maldonado was the first HBCU baseball player taken in the 2019 (MLB) First-Year Player Draft when he was selected in the 11th round (No. 321 overall), by the Miami Marlins.

Black College Nines ranks and analyzes our top five rising HBCU draft-eligible players who have the potential to go in this year’s draft…

The Top Five for 2020:

Josh Hancock FAMU Baseball 124x150 NC AT Michael Johnson 116x150 Nike Galates JSU Baseball Travaris Cole 100x150 Texas College Cameron Phelts e1518056130236 120x150
1. Josh Hancock, RHP,
Florida A&M
2. Michael Johnson, RHP,
N.C. A&T
3. Nikelle Galatas, RHP,
Jackson State
4. Travaris Cole, OF,
Alcorn State
5. Cameron Phelts OF,
Texas College

Expect more pitchers to come out from HBCUs in the 2020 draft. FAMU’s Josh Hancock is a 6’6” hard-throwing righty who has ranked with many of the top collegiate draft prospects in Division I. North Carolina A&T’s Michael Johnson, a 5’11” 210 lb. right-hander, throws hard and uses every square inch of the strike zone.  A scouting report on Nikelle Galatas of Jackson State notes that his best pitch is a slider that is difficult for left and right-handers to hit. His fastball sits between 91 and 92 miles per hour, topping out at 93.

The two lone position players can hit a ton. Alcorn State outfielder Travaris Cole, Black College Nines’ HBCU Baseball Player of the Year, is a good opposite field and gap hitter with power. He’s 6’0? 235 lbs with a good arm. Texas College centerfielder, Cameron Phelts, has the tools of a leadoff-hitter in a lineup plus speed at any outfield position. He is a 5’8? 160 lb speedster who was on pace to steal 100 bases this season. He had 48 stolen bases in 29 games this season but was derailed by the pandemic.

The 2020 HBCU baseball class also offers a healthy number of talented all-around position and pitching players. All are high-level student-athletes who grade out as average or better in all tool areas by MLB standards and are on the plus side with raw power, speed, arm strength, have shown pop in their bats, in addition to plus speed and defensive skills.

MLB potential Free Agent names to watch for in the MLB Draft include:

Elijah Finney RHP – Southern University
Marcos Castillo OF – Coppin State University
Anthony Becerra LHP – Jackson State University
Brady Norris RHP – Bethune Cookman University
Austin Rotramel RHP – Wiley College
Brandon Rembert OF – Alcorn State University
Brady Bibbs RHP – Kentucky State University
Gerardric Dobbs INF – Claflin University
Chris O’Neal OF – Lane College
Justin Banks OF – Coppin State University
Keishaun Clark INF – Lane College
Malik Barrington RHP – Albany State University
Alsander Womack INF – Norfolk State University
Dustin Baber INF – North Carolina A&T University
Tanner Brandon – Bluefield State College
David Padilla RHP – Talladega College
Jacob Snyder LHP – Southern University
Equon Smith OF – Jackson State University
Cameron Phelts OF – Texas College
Rafael Ramirez INF – Grambling State University

All of this could happen in this week’s draft set to take place on Wednesday and Thursday.

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