KNOXVILLE — Let the negotiations begin.
The third and final day of the 2019 MLB Draft on Wednesday left five current and future Tennessee baseball players with a decision to make between going pro and suiting up for the Vols during the 2020 season.
Juniors Ricky Martinez and Jay Charleston joined Andre Lipcius, Garrett Stallings, Andrew Schultz and Zach Linginfelter — all of whom were selected Tuesday — to push UT’s current crop of draftees to six, the most in a single draft for the program since 2015.
Tennessee signees Jordan Beck, Alex Haynes and Connor Housley were also drafted, putting their collegiate careers in question before they get started.
A Major League club retains the rights to sign a selection until August 15 or until the player enters, or returns to, the university on a full-time basis.
Martinez was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 18th round with the 542nd overall pick after an impressive debut season with the Vols.
Recruited from Grayson College (Texas) for his glove, the shortstop offered a surprising supply of offense, finishing third on the team with a .279 batting average with a team-leading 18 doubles. He also scored 36 runs, had 28 RBIs, stole 11 bases and didn’t commit an error over the Vols’ final 32 games.
The Kansas City Royals drafted Charleston in the 26th round with the 769th overall pick as a second baseman. He started 59 games in center field this season and one at second after making 50 starts at second as a sophomore.
However, his value is more dependent on his speed than his defense. The Longwood, Fla., native stole 41 bases this season, becoming the first SEC player to swipe more than 40 bags since UT legend Chris Burke did so in 2001. Charleston’s 67 career stolen bases rank fifth all-time at Tennessee.
Beck, out of Hazel Green High School (Alabama), was the first player with UT ties to be taken Wednesday when the Boston Red Sox selected him in the 14th round with the 437th overall pick.
The 18-year-old outfielder is listed at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, a frame that projects power potential from his right-handed swing.
Haynes was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 15th round with the 459th overall pick after posting a 2.50 ERA with 114 strikeouts over 82 2/3 innings this season at Walters State Community College.
“His fastball sits in the low 90’s, though it has touched 96 mph at times,” his prospect profile on MLB.com reads. “The right-hander has an easy delivery, and also has an average slider and changeup to pair with his fastball.”
Haynes had Tommy John surgery in 2017, an injury that will likely push him toward going pro.
Housley, a right-handed pitcher out of Sandy Creek High School (Georgia), was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 17th round with the 505th overall pick.
Notable draft-eligible Tennessee players not taken include junior outfielder Justin Ammons, Alcoa alum and redshirt sophomore closer Redmond Walsh and junior utility Pete Derkay.