Oregon will see plenty of scouts at PK Park in the spring.
The Ducks have four players projected to go in the top five rounds of the Major League Baseball draft in June. The Ducks have never had more than three players taken in the first five rounds in school history.
“The potential seems to be as good as we’ve had in the last several years for maybe some higher draft picks,” Oregon coach George Horton said.
Oregon’s draft possibilities are headlined by pitchers Kenyon Yovan and Ryne Nelson, two right-handers who are expected to anchor the starting rotation next season.
Nelson is listed as the No. 11 college draft prospect by Baseball America while Yovan is 25th on that list. D1baseball.com ranks Yovan as the No. 14 prospect in college followed by Nelson at No. 41.
The 6-foot-3 Yovan has been a first-team all-Pac-12 selection during each of the past two seasons. Over those two seasons, he's 7-5 with a 2.70 ERA and 20 saves while striking out 134 in 116 2/3 innings. He was drafted in the 32nd round of the 2016 draft by Seattle following his senior season at Westview High School.
“This is just like any other year, it’s just baseball so I’m not worried about that,” he said of the draft. “I am worried about winning games and trying to put a mark on Oregon baseball. I want to get us to Omaha for the first time and make the playoffs since we have not done that in the past three years.”
Nelson, who pitched in only nine games as a freshman while recovering from an injury, was Oregon’s starting shortstop and closer last season. He went 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA and four saves while striking out 37 in 23 1/3 innings.
Nelson will switch from reliever to starter as Yovan did last year when he moved out of the bullpen in the middle of the season.
“The biggest thing is mentality and (Nelson) knows what to do,” Yovan said. “He’s going to be dominant in whatever role he is put into. That electric arm he has is definitely going to help us throughout the year.”
Oregon outfielder Jonny DeLuca is eligible for the draft after his sophomore year based on his age. The 5-foot-11 switch-hitter was Oregon’s center fielder last year when he batted .212 with six home runs, 32 RBIs and six stolen bases.
DeLuca is ranked as the No. 72 overall college prospect and No. 36 hitter by D1baseball.com. College Baseball Daily listed DeLuca as the No. 93 overall player.
Third baseman Spencer Steer is ranked as the No. 102 prospect by D1baseball.com.
“That is in the back of your mind, but you go out every day and try to find ways to get better and let the rest take care of itself,” he said.
The 5-foot-11 Steer hit .268 with six homers and 72 RBIs in 107 games during the past two years. He batted .304 with five homers and 25 RBIs in 36 games last summer in the Cape Cod League.
“I’m sure Spencer will be right in the middle of things if we are successful this year,” Horton said.