University of Georgia pitchers Emerson Hancock and Cole Wilcox are projected to become the latest Bulldogs to be selected in the first round of Major League Baseball’s annual draft that begins Wednesday.
Hancock, a 6-4, 213-pound junior from Cairo, Ga., has been ranked as high as the No. 4 overall prospect and the nation’s top right-hander by outlets such as MLB.com, Baseball America and D1Baseball.com. Wilcox, a 6-5, 232-pound draft-eligible sophomore from Chickamauga, Ga., has been rated among the Top 25 prospects in this year’s talent pool. Additionally, both Bulldogs are members of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. Hancock, a Sport Management major, is up for Academic All-America honors by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Wilcox, an accounting major, had the team’s top Grade Point Average and was its SEC Scholar-Athlete nominee. Twice in Georgia history (1987 and 2008), the Bulldogs have had a pair of first round picks in the same draft.
This year’s five-round MLB draft will start Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET, and MLB Network and ESPN will have live coverage. The first night will feature a total of 37 picks (the First Round and Competitive Balance Round A). Twenty-nine teams have a first round pick while the Houston Astros forfeited their first round pick as part of their penalty for illegally stealing signs. This year, there will be eight Competitive Balance Round A picks at the end of the first round. These eight picks go to teams that have either one of the 10 smallest markets or 10 smallest revenue pools and are determined by a formula that considers winning percentage and revenue.
Recently, Hancock and Wilcox said they are waiting to see how the draft unfolds after the 2020 college baseball season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Bulldogs, under the direction of Ike Cousins head coach Scott Stricklin, were 14-4 and ranked as high as No. 2 nationally. In his Bulldog career, Hancock is 16-7 with a 3.47 ERA in 33 appearances, all starts. He has tallied 206 strikeouts and 55 walks in 192 innings. In two seasons, Wilcox is 6-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 23 appearances including 10 starts. Wilcox earned second team All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball in 2020 after going 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA. He had 32 strikeouts and just two walks in 23 innings.
Since the end of April, Hancock and Wilcox indicated they have had Zoom meetings with numerous MLB teams as part of the pre-draft preparation.
“The great thing about the MLB Draft is you can kind of see how things play out,” said Hancock. “Nobody really knows what’s going to happen. There’s a lot of uncertainty about where people might go. Whatever does happen, I’ll make the best decision for me and my family. Every kid’s goal when you start playing at a young age is to be a big leaguer.”
“Teams keep their business to themselves, and it’s kind of a guessing game, but I look at it as a win-win,” said Wilcox. “Obviously, I love the University (of Georgia), the two years I’ve spent there are two of the best years of my life, not only in baseball but my growth as a person. On the other side of that, it could be something that fulfills a life-long dream. Either way, I look it as a win-win for sure. I’ve got to crank out the details. I’m going to talk a lot with my family, a lot with the people I’m close with.”
On Thursday beginning at 5 p.m. ET on the MLB Network and ESPN2, rounds two through five of the draft will be held, accounting for an additional 123 selections. Current Bulldogs who have been mentioned on top 500 prospects lists by various outlets include junior left-hander Ryan Webb, senior shortstop Cam Shepherd, redshirt junior outfielder Tucker Bradley, junior left-hander C.J. Smith, redshirt junior infielder Riley King and redshirt sophomore outfielder Ben Anderson.
Did You Know?
*Georgia has a string of 47 straight seasons with at least one player signing a professional contract and 42 consecutive years with a player being drafted.
*In school history, Georgia has had 10 players selected in the 1st round (including compensation and competitive balance picks), the most recent being Robert Tyler, RHP, who was taken 38th overall by Colorado in 2016.
*Georgia’s highest draft pick ever is outfielder Jeff Pyburn, who went 5th overall to San Diego in 1980.
*Only twice in school history have the Bulldogs had two players drafted in the 1st Round:
-1987 (Derek Lilliquist, LHP, Atlanta 6th overall; Cris Carpenter, RHP, St. Louis, 14th overall);
-2008 (Gordon Beckham, SS, Chicago White Sox, 8th overall; Josh Fields, RHP, Seattle, 20th overall)
*The MLB Draft has been 40 rounds annually since 2012 but has been shortened to five rounds in 2020. Each pick in the five rounds comes with an assigned value and since 2012, each team has been an assigned a bonus pool to spend and going over that pool results in a penalty that they are taxed on by MLB. Detroit has the first pick this year, and the value for that selection is $8,415,300 and their total pool is $13,325,700.
* Teams will have until Aug. 1 to sign their draft picks. Teams can sign an unlimited number of undrafted players this year. The maximum bonus a player can receive this year if they go undrafted is $20,000.
*Eight Bulldogs were drafted in 2019, and six elected to sign a professional contract. Third baseman Aaron Schunk was Georgia’s highest draft pick in 2019 when Colorado selected him in the second round.
2020 MLB Draft Dates, Times and Networks
Wednesday, June 10 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN and MLB Network), 1st Round and Competitive Balance Round A (37 total picks)
Thursday, June 11 at 5 p.m. ET (ESPN2 and MLB Network), Rounds 2-5 (123 total picks)