MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The 2021 MLB Draft begins Sunday night, expanding to 20 rounds after last summer’s event was reduced to five rounds as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
No Mountaineers were selected last summer, marking the first draft since 2012 that didn’t include a WVU player. That is unlikely to turn into a streak, however.
Several projections place WVU starting pitcher Jackson Wolf as a mid-round prospect in this year’s draft. In fact, as of last week, he ranked among the top 250 prospects in the draft, according to Baseball America.
Wolf was West Virginia’s ace in 2021, ranking third in the Big 12 in strikeouts with 104. He logged 10 or more strikeouts in three consecutive games and led WVU to a pair of victories over Texas, which ultimately reached the College World Series.
The native of Gahanna, Ohio, earned a spot on the All-Big 12 Second Team and the league’s all-tournament team.
But beyond Wolf, could any other Mountaineers be drafted this week? Right fielder Austin Davis appears to have a shot. He led the program in hits in 2021 with 56 and batted .320 for the year — the only Mountaineer to finish the season with a batting average above .300.
At the very least, former Mountaineer and current Chicago Cubs minor leaguer Darius Hill thinks Davis raised his profile in the spring, emerging as a promising pro prospect.
“I think he’s made leaps and bounds of improvements,” Hill said in an exclusive interview with Gold and Blue Nation. “I was so impressed by what he was able to do this year, not just in the outfield — I knew he was a great athlete and would make those catches — but he’s swinging the bat now too with some pop. I think he’s got a real future in this game, and I was really impressed by what he was able to do this year.”
Davis is one of several Mountaineers currently listed on the active roster for the West Virginia Black Bears, who compete in the MLB Draft League. That league has paused for the draft and will return to action Thursday.