As the sun set in Corvallis on Monday night, the Michigan baseball team was celebrating — they had just beat Creighton in the NCAA Regional final game, 17-6, on the back of its potent offense.
Then, they were given another reason to celebrate: within minutes of each other, the two junior Michigan aces were drafted. Left-hander Tommy Henry was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 74th pick and right-hander Karl Kauffmann went to the Colorado Rockies at No. 77.
They were the first of five Wolverine upperclassman to be drafted. Next was Big Ten Player of the Year junior outfielder Jordan Brewer, who was No. 106 overall to the Houston Astros. Then junior right-hander Jack Weisenburger went to Oakland at No. 614 and finally, senior infielder Jimmy Kerr came in at No. 982, drafted by the Detroit Tigers.
For Kauffmann and Henry, being drafted was expected; both had been impressive starters the last two years and shutting down opposing offenses.
Henry watched his draft stock skyrocket throughout the first two months of the season. He allowed just three runs in his first five starts, including a one-hit shutout at The Citadel, where he threw just 88 pitches, facing 27 batters and striking out 13. Towards the end of the season, though, he began to falter. His earned-run average nearly doubled after a string of bad starts, where it eventually finished at 3.61, eventually pushing him from Friday starter to Saturday starter — replaced by the man picked three spots later.
Kauffmann, steady throughout the year, ended with the lowest ERA on the team at 2.62. He wasn’t a strikeout pitcher like Henry, though. Instead, Kauffmann would let his defense do the work by inducing ground ball after ground ball.
Weisenburger, the lone member of the Michigan bullpen to be drafted, did not put up the impressive numbers that Kauffmann and Henry did. With just 29 innings of use this year and 27.2 last year, Weisenburger had a .6 walk-to-strikeout ratio in his junior campaign and was often the third or fourth arm to come out of the bullpen.
This year’s breakout performer for the Wolverines is quite clearly the junior college transfer Brewer. In his first year of Division I baseball, the outfielder stole the show. He made astonishing diving catches and key pick-off throws from the warning track to keep games close. In the batters box, he came alive with a team-high slugging percentage and batting average of .612 and .349, respectively, along with 23 steals.
Another standout from this year, Kerr spent almost all of his time at first base and started every single game this year. The regionals were a snapshot of Kerr’s season for the Wolverines: 4 home runs in four games. In other words, Kerr was clutch.
So as the rounds went by and Michigan was preparing for its clash against No. 1 UCLA, players boarded the bus after practice and went wild when they heard the news that their captain was drafted by the team 45 miles away.