LINCOLN — Nebraska's top three baseball recruits were not picked in the first 10 rounds of the professional draft as originally projected, increasing the chances that the highly regarded prospects will wait on starting their professional careers.
Pitcher Derek Burkamper of Muscatine, Iowa, confirmed on Twitter and through his high school coach, Bob Leech, that he wants to join the Husker program this fall. Leech said Burkamper turned down a potential offer equivalent to a third-round signing bonus Friday.
Outfielder Ryan Boldt was supposed to go even higher, ranking among the top 50 prospects before the draft began Thursday. But Boldt injured a knee before his senior season at Red Wing (Minn.) High School, and his draft stock dipped.
Left-handed pitcher Max Knutson wasn't picked, either. He entered the draft as the fifth-best prospect in Minnesota and the 206th-best nationally, according to Baseball America.
Players have until July 12 to sign a professional contract, and the final 30 rounds of the draft begin at noon Saturday.
Typically, prospects who slide well past their projected draft spot are presumed by franchises to be unsignable. The MLB's bonus pool structure, adopted in 2012, restricts the amount of flexibility teams have during the negotiation process, too.
Nebraska, without an NCAA regional berth since 2008, could use some extra help.
The Huskers are losing eight seniors, and they accounted for 50 percent of the offensive production last season. Adding pitching depth to a staff that recorded a 4.68 ERA last year is a priority for NU as well.
Burkamper, a right-hander, has a 0.58 ERA in four starts this year, striking out 46 in 24 innings. Knutson will lead Mounds View (Minn.) High School into the state tournament next week.
Boldt was the MVP of Perfect Game's All-American Classic last August. He also won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. under-18 national team in September.
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