Three Boston-area college baseball players saw their names called last month in the 2023 MLB Draft: Matt Shaw, a shortstop out of Maryland; Nigel Belgrave, a right-handed pitcher and Shaw’s teammate with the Terrapins, as well as Coleman Picard, a right-handed pitcher for Bryant University.
While it’s important to note that the road from college baseball to the Major Leagues is far from a linear process—it’s not like football or basketball where pure athletic talent can translate directly from one level to the next even with a talent disparity in mind—here’s a look at how those lucky three players fit in with their new teams, and what we could see out of them someday.
Shaw was one of the top prospects in the draft this season, so we’ll look at him first. He’s an excellent hitter with sneaky pop, slugging 24 home runs in 62 games for the Terrapins this past season. He’s got an excellent eye, drawing more strikeouts than walks as he got on base more than 44 percent of the time.
Once he’s on base, he has the speed to wreak havoc on the bases, swiping 18 bags last season on 19 attempts. He doesn’t have the best arm in the world, so he could move over to second base eventually, but he had the upside for the Chicago Cubs to draft him 13th overall… and he’s expected to reach the majors by 2025, which is typical for a college prospect outside the top five picks.
Chicago has a well-entrenched middle infield right now with Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson, but a lot can change in the next year or two.
If you want to follow the journey Shaw and the rest of these prospects take next season and end up catching a game in Fenway or a trip to the Bay State, Massachusetts sports betting apps are available to make informed bets while celebrating the impact of college baseball on the majors.
The Miami Marlins picked up Belgrave in the fifteenth round, not a bad draw for a relief pitcher. He doesn’t really have the upside to move into the starting rotation, as his slider is his best pitch (although he can hit the upper 90s with his power sinker, which is great at inducing ground balls), but high-end relievers are an invaluable commodity to have, especially these days when Tommy John surgeries seem to be a dime a dozen.
Belgrave has struggled with accuracy in the past, which can lead to him getting knocked around on the mound, but he has the kind of stuff that you can’t teach. He’ll take some polishing but could end up playing an important role when he hits the majors someday.
He was projected as one of the top 200 prospects by some prospect evaluators ahead of the draft (and ended up going as the No. 443 pick), so it seems like MLB teams might have some reservations about his accuracy issues.
Belgrave was one of three Terrapins pitchers drafted this year, as the program has turned itself into a sneaky powerhouse in recent years. They’ve made the NCAA Tournament for three straight seasons and claimed the Big Ten Tournament championship this season under head coach Rob Vaughn. He left to take the head role at Alabama following the season, and at just 36 years old is certainly a rising star in the industry.
With new head coach Matt Swope set to take the reins, it’ll be interesting to see if the Terrapins are able to continue their excellent track record: Swope has been with the program for as long as Vaughn has, so he should be able to step in seamlessly… whether he has the same knack for the job that Vaughn possesses remains to be seen.
Last but not least is Pickard, who the Royals picked up in the sixth round. He’s a bit of a project, much like Belgrave, as he’s been building up his stamina in order to become a full-time starter after spending his first two seasons at Bryant out of the bullpen.
He has a starter’s arsenal, with a fastball, changeup, slider and curveball, but he pitched just 42 innings in ten appearances this season: it’s not like he was getting shelled and pulled from the game early, either, as he pitched to an excellent 3.43 ERA.
He has excellent upside, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Royals want to build him up as a starter or to keep going with what works as a reliever: Kansas City has holes across their roster, so there will be a waiting spot for him anywhere he manages to fit in.