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MLB Draft Tracker: Three Huskers Selected Within First Four Rounds, Making Program History

July 09, 2023

The 2023 Major League Baseball Draft started Sunday, with plenty of intrigue for Nebraska prospects.

Despite a fairly disappointing season for the Huskers in 2023, a number of players on the team shined individually. Brice Matthews, Max Anderson, Emmett Olson and Jace Kaminska were all juniors, but are all likely moving on to the next level.

Matthews and Anderson highlight the group, as the infield pair come off a season in which they both hit 20-plus home runs. The former has commonly been projected to be drafted within Sunday’s first 70 picks. That means the first two rounds, along with a pair of “Competitive Balance” rounds. Anderson also being selected Sunday is possible, but him waiting another day appears more likely based on mock drafts and big boards.

Olson and Kaminska, Nebraska’s top two pitchers last season, also will have the chance to go pro. ESPN ranked Olson as the No. 166 prospect, meaning that he should be selected Monday, when rounds 3-10 are completed. Kaminska isn’t quite as well-regarded, meaning he’d be a later selection if he is picked.

This article will be updated as Huskers are selected throughout the three-day event.

Round 1, No. 28 Overall Pick: Brice Matthews selected by the Houston Astros

With the final pick of the first round, Matthews became Nebraska’s seventh ever first-round selection.

The Houston Astros took the Husker star, who is from the Houston area. Matthews got to this spot by way of his combination of power and speed that he showcased in a breakout 2023 season. The shortstop hit .359 with 20 home runs, 67 RBI and a team-best 20 stolen bases in 54 games. He became the first player in program history to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases in a single season.

ESPN analysts praised those aforementioned skills following his selection, while mentioning that Matthews — who had 21 errors last season at shortstop — might see a position change to second base, third base or even center field at the next level.

Matthews is Nebraska’s highest draft selection since Alex Gordon was the No. 2 overall pick in 2005.

Round 2, No. 45 Overall Pick: Max Anderson drafted by the Detroit Tigers

With the Tigers selecting Anderson, both of Nebraska’s star middle infielders went within the first 45 picks of the draft.

Pre-draft projections indicated that Anderson’s chances of going in the first two rounds weren’t all that high. He was Nebraska’s best statistical hitter in 2023, but lacked some of the athleticism that helped propel Matthews to his early selection. Still, the Tigers clearly liked what they saw from the Omaha native.

Anderson had a stellar season, with a batting average of .414 to go along with a team-best 21 homers and 70 RBI. His 101 total hits tied for seventh in the nation, and he was second in hits per game.

Nebraska is the first program since Arizona State in 2015 to have its middle infield drafted in the first two rounds.

The pair account for two of five Big Ten players to be drafted so far in 2023, with no other school having more than one player be picked.

Round 4, No. 110 Overall Pick: Emmett Olson picked by the Miami Marlins

Another player picked well above their projection coming into the draft, Olson’s selection sealed Nebraska’s best early-round showing in program history.

This is the first time the Huskers have had three players selected within the first four rounds. Only once before did they have three players off the board by the end of round five, back in 2005. Alex Gordon was the second overall pick to highlight that group, followed by Brian Duensing in the third round and Zach Kroenke in the fifth.

Olson was Nebraska’s Friday starter on the mound this past season, finishing the year with a 4.50 earned run average in 15 starts and a team-leading 80 strikeouts. In 2022, he posted a 2.86 ERA in eight starts and landed on all-conference second team.

Round 10, No. 292 Overall Pick: Jace Kaminska drafted by the Colorado Rockies

In the final round of the draft’s second day, the Rockies chose Kaminska.

The right-hander instantly solidified himself beside Olson as a quality weekend starter after spending the first two years of his college career at Wichita State. Of the three Huskers who started more than 10 games on the mound — himself, Olson and Will Walsh — Kaminska’s earned run average of 4.13 was the lowest. In his final start of the season against eventual conference champion Maryland, he allowed just one earned run in six innings pitched.

Kaminska’s selection builds on what had already been a historic draft for Nebraska. This is the fourth time the program has had four players taken in the first 10 rounds, with the last instance being the aforementioned 2005 draft.

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