NORMAN, Okla. – Right-handed pitcher Alec Hansen (Loveland, Colo.) was the first University of Oklahoma baseball player off the board in the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft as a second round selection of the Chicago White Sox. Shortstop Sheldon Neuse (Fort Worth, Texas), drafted as a third baseman, was taken nine picks later by the Washington Nationals.
Hansen and Neuse are the highest drafted Sooner duo since Jon Gray (1st round, 3rd pick) and Dillon Overton (2nd round, 63rd pick) in 2013. The two mark the first two players from the Big 12 drafted in 2016.
In the early rounds of day three at the draft, outfielder Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas) and right-handed pitchers Jake Elliott (Coppell, Texas) and Alex Daniele (Scotch Plains, N.J.) joined the 2016 draft class. Thomas, a former OU quarterback, was off the board to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 13th round. Elliott joined Hansen with the White Sox as a 15th round selection and Daniele went to the Texas Rangers in the 19th.
Since the first MLB Draft in 1965, 259 Sooners have been selected. A year ago, Oklahoma matched its program-record as 11 players were drafted; the highest in the country from a single school in 2015. In the last four drafts, a total of 14 Sooners have been selected in the first 15 rounds.
The White Sox selected Hansen with the 49th overall pick. A 25th round pick of the Colorado Rockies out of high school in 2013, Hansen went 3-5 on the hill with a 5.40 earned run average and a team-leading 75 strikeouts; averaging 13.06 per nine innings. He was named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week following a win over Kansas State (5/8) in which he carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. In 2015, Hansen went 5-6 with a 3.95 ERA and 94 strikeouts as an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention.
Neuse became the highest drafted position player from Oklahoma since Jackson Williams (1st round, 43rd pick) in 2007. He is a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, John Olerud Award and Dick Howser Trophy. Neuse became just the second player in league history to be named a three-time unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection this season. He was previously the 2014 Big 12 Freshman of the Year and was recently honored as a Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball News Second Team All-American.
At the plate, Neuse led the Sooners in 10 offensive categories, including a slash line that ranks each statistic in the top five among Big 12 players with a .396 batting average, .465 on-base percentage and league-leading .646 slugging percentage. He totaled 15 doubles, 10 home runs and five triples as his 80 career extra-base hits rank 10th all-time at OU. Neuse drove in 48 runs and scored 42. He became the 40th player in program history with 100 runs scored and knocked in. His 209 career hits rank 18th at Oklahoma. On the mound, Neuse contributed a 4-1 record and five saves with a 1.40 ERA in 14 relief outings. Neuse was originally a 38th round selection of the Texas Rangers out of high school in 2013.
Thomas was the first Sooner off the board on day three of the MLB Draft as a 13th round selection of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Thomas, who stepped away from baseball in 2015 to focus on competing for the starting quarterback position at OU, was drafted with the 401st overall pick. He was a 30th round pick of the New York Yankees out of high school in 2013 and would play sparingly on the diamond as a two-sport athlete for the Sooners in 2014. This season, Thomas shook off his early-season struggles to earn All-Big 12 Honorable Mention with a strong finish to the year. He hit .299 and slugged .556 with six home runs and 27 RBI.
Elliott followed Thomas as the 446th overall pick to the White Sox in the 15th round. An All-Big 12 Honorable Mention as a sophomore in 2015, he has spent the bulk of his career in the OU rotation. Elliott owns a 6-10 career record with a 3.92 ERA and 14 6 strikeouts, while opponents have hit just .253 off of him.
In the 19th round, Daniele became the fifth Sooner selected as he went 579th overall to the Texas Rangers. A junior college transfer with prior stops at Cisco Community College and NJIT, he appeared out of the OU bullpen in 11 games this season. A strikeout pitcher, Daniele fanned 17 over 12.1 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 1-0 record.