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Four Michigan Wolverines with a good shot at being selected in the 2020 MLB Draft

Some key pieces from last year’s College World Series run could hear their name called Thursday.

College World Series - Michigan v Vanderbilt - Game Three Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

The 2020 MLB Draft looks a little different than in recent seasons given the ongoing pandemic and financial limitations impacting the sport. Accordingly, the draft has been dramatically reduced from 40 rounds to just five, meaning many players who would be selected in a normal year will be overlooked.

Even with the reduced number of rounds, there are a handful of Michigan players who could hear their name called on Day Two (which encompasses Rounds 2-5). After making a trip to the College World Series finals last season, the Wolverines have placed themselves on the national map, giving prospects a greater chance at exposure and increasing their draftability. A canceled college season is unfortunate, but last year’s exciting run to the CWS should help the potential draftees.

Last season five Michigan players were selected in the draft. Pitchers Tommy Henry and Karl Kauffmann both went in the second round, with outfielder Jordan Brewer going in the third. Late-round picks Jack Weisenburger, a pitcher, and Jimmy Kerr, a first baseman, rounded out the group. Below is a look at the four Wolverines with the best shot of being selected when the draft resumes at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Jeff Criswell, Pitcher ( Draft Rank: 58)

The Michigan pitching staff was excellent in 2019 and a big reason why the team made it within one win of a national championship. Behind Henry and Kauffmann was Jeff Criswell, who was a key piece of the rotation during the regular season before serving in a bullpen role during the tournament. He posted a 2.72 ERA in 106 innings with 116 strikeouts as a sophomore.

Criswell can hit up to 96 mph and should be a quality contributor at the next level. He offers a slider and changeup as well and has the potential to fit into a major league rotation if he can continue to be stretched out as a starter. There is definitely room for improvement when it comes to consistency, as he sported a 1.30 WHIP last year with over 4.0 BB/9, but his arm talent makes him a candidate for a second or third round selection.

Jordan Nwogu, Outfielder ( Draft Rank: 108)

A superb athlete, Jordan Nwogu was one of the most important batters on the Michigan roster last season. With great speed, including 16 steals, the outfielder usually found himself at the top of the order and helped set the tone for the rest of the team. Nwogu was perfect for the role, notching a .435 OBP with nearly as many walks (44) as strikeouts (51), and he was simply an enjoyable player to watch.

On top of his speed, Nwogu offers impressive power. He is strongly built and crushed 12 homers last year, which is a nice bonus from a leadoff hitter. Though he is not the most rangy outfielder, his athleticism should make him a plus defender in the future. Nwogu might not be a slam dunk prospect, but he has a high ceiling thanks to his physical traits and is a worthwhile lottery ticket for some team this week.

Jesse Franklin, Outfielder ( Draft Rank: 142)

The pandemic that stopped the college baseball season this spring could really end up hurting prospects like Jesse Franklin. The junior was looking to build off of an intriguing 2019, where he hit 13 homers and was third on the team with 55 RBI. An offseason injury prevented him from taking the field in 2020, though, leaving a lot of question marks surrounding his game.

Franklin was a good prospect upon coming to Michigan, but he has yet to put everything together. His average dropped from .327 as a freshman to .262 as a sophomore, and though he did show decent power, he will need to be more consistent at the plate to compete at the next level. Franklin is a good defender and has the tools to play center field, which should increase his odds at getting drafted. He is far from polished, however, and would need some time to develop.

Jack Blomgren, Shortstop ( Draft Rank: 168)

Teams seem to love gritty middle infielders, and Jack Blomgren is just that. The 5-foot-8 shortstop has been a consistent part of the Michigan lineup since coming to Ann Arbor, and while he might not blow anyone away on paper, he definitely deserves a shot at the next level. He is a very reliable defender that could potential move to second base if needed, and his glove is what gives him the best shot at a roster spot.

Blomgren hit .314 last season with little power and a modest seven stolen bases. He is definitely a line drive, contact hitter, but this skill set has its place in baseball. With the draft reduced to just five rounds this season, Blomgren is right around the cutoff point to be selected. However, he should be able to grab a contract if he slips through the five rounds and could definitely make his way up the ranks as a utility player at minimum.