Ohio State baseball continues to churn out prospects that are selected in the MLB Draft. This year’s draft, which kicked off on Sunday and was spread out over three days, saw four Buckeyes selected over the 20-round draft. The four Ohio State players that were selected brought the total numbers of selections from the school to 114 Buckeyes since 1966.
Currently, there are more than 10 former Buckeyes playing in either MLB or in the MiLB. This year’s draft marks the first time since 2016 that Ohio State had four players selected in the same draft. Ohio State has done a great job at producing pitchers lately, as they have had six arms taken over the last two drafts.
TJ Brock - Toronto Blue Jays
In the sixth round, the Toronto Blue Jays selected pitcher TJ Brock with the 188th overall selection. Brock became the 31st Ohio State player selected in the sixth round or higher. The last Buckeye to be taken during that span was Seth Lonsway, who also was selected in the sixth round last year by the San Francisco Giants. Brock is the sixth Buckeye to be taken by Toronto, and the first since Trent Luyster in the 30th round in 2005.
Over four seasons in Columbus, Brock made 51 appearances on the mound, striking out 90 batters over 77.2 innings, posting a 5.68 ERA with 11 saves. Even though his ERA was high, Brock was outstanding over the last two years. In 2021, Brock tied for the Big Ten lead with nine saves. Brock’s 2.08 ERA last year was a team-best, and the righty struck out 33 batters in 21.2 innings.
Brock didn’t see quite as much work this year, pitching just 16.2 innings, recording a 1-2 record and two saves. Now with his college career in the books, Brock will head to Toronto’s spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida to get ready for the start of his professional career in Toronto’s minor league system.
Zach Dezenzo - Houston Astros
Houston has been a popular landing spot for Ohio State prospects over the last decade. Dezenzo is the third Buckeye to be drafted by the Astros since 2015. Pat Porter was selected by Houston in the 15th round in 2015, while Ronnie Dawson was a second round pick by the Astros in 2016. Overall, five Ohio State players have been selected by Houston all-time.
After coming to Columbus having hit just two home runs in his high school career, Dezenzo added 30 pounds and saw his power numbers start to rise. The Stark County product has played shortstop for the majority of his career so far, but he projects as a corner infielder at the professional level. Dezenzo does have a little experience at first base, starting the season there in 2022 while dealing with elbow soreness before moving back to shortstop in April.
Dezenzo really improved his draft stock with an outstanding 2022 season, tying an Ohio State single-season record with 19 home runs, which accounted for nearly a third of Dezenzo’s 66 hits during the season. The Alliance native also drove in 54 runs, and matched that total by scoring 54 runs, earning him second team All-Big Ten honors. The 38 career homers Dezenzo mashed with the Buckeyes is the third-most career total in school history.
Nate Karaffa - Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia isn’t a team that has taken chances on many Buckeyes over the years, with Karaffa being just the fifth Ohio State player selected in the MLB Draft by the Phillies. The last Buckeye to be chosen by Philadelphia was Justin Fry, who was a 12th round pick by the Phillies in 1999. Prior to the Fry selection, the last time Philadelphia picked a Buckeye was all the way back in 1975.
Karaffa came to Ohio State as an accomplished high school player, earning first team All-Ohio honors three times. The Toronto High School product was also the Division IV Player of the Year in 2019. While Karaffa moved around the field early on in his college career, he finally found a home on the mound in 2022.
Some of Karaffa’s numbers as a pitcher weren’t great, as he posted a 6.35 ERA and 14 walks over the 28.1 innings he pitched in 25 appearances. Teams obviously saw some potential in the righty though, as he struck out 36 batters during the season. Since he was taken in the last round of the draft, Karaffa is a low-risk, high-reward type of player for the Phillies. With the right coaching, Karaffa could be a sleeper prospect in Philadelphia’s minor league system.
Ethan Hammerberg - Chicago White Sox
Just nine picks after Karaffa was selected, Ethan Hammerberg was the final Ohio State player taken in this year’s draft, as he caught the eye of the Chicago White Sox, who selected him with the 611th overall pick in the 20-round draft. Hammerberg is the fourth Buckeye to be drafted by Chicago’s south side team. Brad Goldberg was selected in 2013, followed by Ryan Riga in 2015, and Michael Horejsei in 2016.
At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Hammerberg has the look of a power arm out of the bullpen. In his three seasons in Columbus, the Upper Arlington native struck out 65 batters over 44.2 innings. Usually power pitchers have an issue with accuracy at times, but that didn’t seem to be an issue for Hammerberg during this college career, as he walked just 18 over three seasons.