The pair of juniors in catcher Kyle Teel and third baseman Jake Gelof will be forever synonymous with Cavalier baseball. The legendary duo combined for 114 wins, 424 hits and 76 home runs over the past three seasons. They are undoubtedly two of the all-time greatest in school history, as evidenced through the countless broken records each player owns.
However, the duo’s time is up in Charlottesville, as both are moving on to play professionally. With the MLB Draft beginning July 9 during the MLB All-Star Week in Seattle, Wash., Teel and Gelof are the most likely Cavaliers to be drafted, although myriad other Virginia athletes could be drafted during the 20-round event.
Teel is the most highly rated of the Cavaliers, and certainly has the resume of a top 10 selection, but he may slide towards the back end of that tier due to clubs like the Cincinnati Reds and Oakland Athletics already having highly touted catching prospects in their organizations. Likely landing spots include the Kansas City Royals, Colorado Rockies or Miami Marlins because of their positional need, and smart money pegs him to Kansas City at the No. 8 overall selection.
According to MLB.com, Teel projects to have plus tools for hitting and his throwing arm. His .407 batting average in 2023 is simply unheard of for a collegiate catcher. Teel also did not miss any playing time due to injury or poor play in 2023. His elite consistency will be attractive in the post-juiced ball era, as league-wide batting average has not surpassed .250 in the past decade. If Teel is selected at No. 10, he would be the highest pick for Virginia’s program since 2017.
Gelof is a bit of a wild card. While he certainly has outstanding power, scouts may be concerned with plate discipline and inconsistent fielding at third base. A potential move to second base in the mold of his older brother Zach, who has risen to become Oakland’s third best prospect, may be at play.
Gelof will likely land somewhere in the 30-45 range. Potential fits include the New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins —- who have the 32nd, 33rd and 34th picks, respectively. Each organization has at least some history of drafting vetted college bats over high school prospects, and have trends of prioritizing power hitters over those with a contact-based approach.
Gelof is also adept at drawing walks, which should ease concerns about his polarizing “swing for the fences'' approach. This 2023 class just unfortunately happens to feature several other outstanding third base prospects —like Brayden Taylor of TCU, for example — that are hindering Gelof’s draft stock.
Aside from Teel and Gelof, look for junior outfielder Ethan O’Donnell to potentially sign with a pro team. Despite a frustrating individual showing in the College World Series, O’Donnell still hit over .350 throughout the season while also winning a Gold Glove. There is still a realistic chance that O’Donnell returns for his senior season, but he might be selected anywhere after the third round. He currently ranks in the top 25 of draft eligible outfielders — and 97th overall among all players —- by Prospects Live.
The starting pitching trio of Brian Edgington, Nick Parker and Connelly Early is also worth keeping an eye on. Early was named Third Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and absolutely dominated the second half of the 2023 season along with Edgington, a Third Team All-ACC selection.
Early still has multiple seasons of eligibility —- and Virginia fans would certainly love to have him return to Charlottesville — but Edgington has exhausted his eligibility and will look towards a pro career. Parker is also unable to return. Bullpen arms like graduate student Angelo Tonas could also be selected at some point during the longest draft in North American sports.
At the minimum, Teel and Gelof will add to Virginia’s lengthy list of professional players, and many others have the chance to as well.
In addition to the status of current Virginia players, all eyes will also be on Jonny Farmelo. An outfielder from Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va., Farmelo is the highest ranked recruit in Virginia’s 2023 class. He is projected to be drafted in the second round, but still could honor his commitment to the Cavaliers if he does not receive an above average contract in his signing spot.
In 2022, four Cavaliers were drafted. Nate Savino went to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third round, while Brandon Neeck and Chris Newell both went to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Matt Wyatt was also selected by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Losing key contributors is always bittersweet, but more Cavaliers heading to MLB means that the program as a whole continues to grow as a reputable pipeline to professional success. Virginia boasts several impact players currently contributing to winning teams in the majors right now, like Cincinnati Reds Ace Andrew Abbott. The Cavaliers lead the ACC in MLB Draft selections since 2010, and will likely add to their total with the future stars to be selected soon.