ATHENS — University of Georgia pitcher Cole Wilcox was selected by the San Diego Padres in the third round of the Major League Baseball Draft Thursday.
Wilcox, a 6-5, 232-pound sophomore right-hander is an accounting major from Chickamauga, Ga. He was the 80th overall pick in this year’s draft. In two seasons, Wilcox has posted a 6-2 record with a 3.38 ERA in 23 appearances including 10 starts. Wilcox earned second-team All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball in 2020 after going 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA. He had 32 strikeouts and just two walks in 23 innings. Georgia was 14-4 and ranked as high as No. 2 nationally when the season was canceled due to the pandemic.
All the 2020 mock MLB drafts projected Wilcox as a first-round selection. However, teams have a bonus pool to sign their draft picks. While each selection has an assigned value, teams may spend less on some choices in the early rounds and then use their savings to spend more on later selections. The Padres used this strategy last year when it drafted and signed their third-round pick Hudson Head, a prep outfielder to a record $3 million bonus, the most ever for a player in that round. Head was the 84th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. This year, San Diego has used its first three selections before Wilcox on high school players in the draft at the No. 8, 34 and 45 spots. Teams will have until Aug. 1 to sign their draft picks.
Along with being a premium talent on the field, Wilcox had the team’s top grade point average this year and was its Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete nominee. Wilcox moved into Georgia’s starting rotation in 2020 after earning Freshman All-SEC honors. He followed that up with a standout summer with the 2019 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. After his senior year at Heritage High School, Washington selected him in the 37th round of the 2018 MLB Draft, however, he opted to honor his commitment to the Bulldogs.
“Cole is a talented, hard-working and intelligent, and it’s been an honor to be able to coach him,” said Georgia’s Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin. “All the intangibles are there to be a star in the big leagues.”
Wilcox becomes the latest Bulldog drafted by the Padres since they took Michael Curry in the 16th round of the 2018 draft. Incidentally, Georgia’s highest-ever draft pick was outfielder Jeff Pyburn who went fifth overall to San Diego in 1980.
During Wednesday’s first round of the MLB Draft, the Seattle Mariners selected Georgia pitcher Emerson Hancock with the sixth overall pick. Georgia has a string of 47 straight seasons with at least one player signing a professional contract and now 43 consecutive years with a player being drafted. The five-round draft concludes Thursday.