Oklahoma baseball: Horton, Bennett, Graham round out Day 1 of MLB Draft

Oklahoma baseball was especially active on Day 1 of the 2022 MLB Draft.

It was just a matter of time, when an Oklahoma Sooner would hear his name called in the 2022 MLB Draft, and it came with No. 7 overall selection of Cade Horton by the Chicago Cubs.

Many mock drafts had the strong right-handed pitcher going late in the first round, but the Cubs loved what they saw in the recently ended Men’s College World Series.

Horton becomes the third Sooner to be drafted within the 1st seven picks of the MLB Draft. He joins right hander Bobby Witt from 1985, and another right-hander, Jonathon Gray, from 2013. Horton’s 4.86 season ERA doesn’t show how great he was late in the season, and in the clutch moments. The Norman High product saw his ERA drop after each game in the MCWS.

“Cade was our prime target in the first round. In the second round, it’s hard to have visibility, so you don’t normally put too much stock in it. But Jackson (Ferris) was the No. 1 target there as well, thinking that we’d have a little bit of money potentially to spread around,” Cubs Vice President of Scouting said. 

Yet another dynamic Sooner arm was selected on opening day of the MLB Draft.  left-hander Jake Bennett taken in Round 2 by the Washington Nationals with the 45th overall pick. Bennett was in the conversation about being a late second, early Round 3 pick, but instead he found his name called early in the second round by the Nationals.

Ironically, Bennett was originally drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 2019 MLB Draft in the 39th round. He will join former Sooner pitcher Cade Cavalli, who was drafted by the Nationals in the first round in the 2020 MLB Draft

“Another big guy, 6’6’’, 235, innings-eater frame,” Assistant GM and VP of Scouting ops Kris Kline said last night. “Nice delivery. Repeatable delivery. Fastball is up to 96, he’ll live at about 93, good life down in the zone.”

Peyton Graham slid back early in the 2nd round Sunday night. Graham was drafted by the Tigers with the 51st pick in the 2nd round. The lengthy shortstop led the Sooners with 20 home runs, and 71 RBI, while batting .335. OU head coach Skip Johnson says it best about Peyton Graham:

“For him, the ceiling is incredible.”

Graham has a wiry frame, but also displays power from the right side. It’ll be interesting to see if Graham makes an imprint as a shortstop, or if he moves to third base in the MLB.

“Everybody looks at the body and wouldn’t project power, but the guy’s got freaky power for his build,” said Scott Pleis, the Tigers’ amateur scouting director. “Plus runner, can stay at shortstop. Just a super-talented guy and a competitive guy.”

The Sooners aren’t done quite yet. Expect to see catcher Jimmy Crooks, and first baseman Blake Robertson get their name called sometime on Monday. Both lefty hitters have played a huge part in the Sooners 2021 run.