Cole Wilcox was off to one heck of a start to his sophomore season at Georgia.
After an abrupt end, the right-handed pitcher may have played his final collegiate game, the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Major League Baseball draft approaches. Well, Wilcox may have played in last game for the Bulldogs. Such is life in these days.
After he went 3-0 record with a 1.57 ERA, Georgia’s season was canceled after 18 games. Wilcox had struck out 32 and walked only two over 33 innings. There were high hopes for Georgia to return to the College World Series. Now, the focus must be on the draft.
The MLB draft will be held June 10-11 and will be limited to five rounds, down from 40. That is where the uncertainty comes in for Wilcox, who is projected to be a late first-round pick. He has not committed to turning professional.
“I don’t know yet,” Wilcox said Tuesday in a video conference call with reporters. “That is something that I probably won’t know until after the draft is over because that’s how it works, teams keep their business to themselves. It’s kind of a guessing game. Whatever happens, happens. I look at it as a win-win.
“Obviously I love the university for the two years I was there, two of the best years of my life, not only with baseball but my experience and growth as a person. And then on the other side of it, you have something that is going to fulfill a lifelong dream. Either way, I look at it as a win-win, for sure.”
The draft begins Wednesday of next week with the first round, 37 picks in total. Rounds 2-5 will be held the next day, with a total of 160 players being selected. Wilcox is rated No. 23 in the MLB prospect rankings. It’s likely the Wilcox will be drafted early, along with teammate right-handed pitcher Emerson Hancock, rated No. 4.
Georgia was 14-4 before the season ended. Among Wilcox’s victory was a shutout of Georgia Tech on Feb. 29, when the 6-foot-5 pitcher threw seven innings and allowed three hits while striking out 11 and walking none.
“I got off to a good start, and I feel like I was just starting to scratch the surface,” Wilcox said.
In two seasons at Georgia, Wilcox went 6-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 23 appearances. He struck out 96 and walked 40 for his career and was an All-SEC selection as a freshman.
If Wilcox is to move on, he will leave memories, some of the best of his young life, behind.
“It affected all of us, in I feel like, the same way,” Wilcox said of the shortened season. “We knew we had a special team, a special group. We had good bonds throughout the whole team, and that’s what was so special about it. The season ending like that cuts out two and half months of memories out of your life, really, that you could be out there playing with your teammates, traveling on the road, going to different places.
“Looking back at last year, that was something that were the best memories of my life, traveling to Mississippi State, going to Hoover (Ala.) for the SEC Tournament. Stuff like that is just tough, and you are really going to miss, and you know that you’ll never play with those guys again.”
This would be the second time Wilcox has been drafted. Coming out of high school in Chickamauga, he made his intentions known that he intended to play college baseball. Still, Washington selected him in the 37th round. Wilcox said it will help this time around knowing what to expect.
Wilcox said he has been in contact with several major league teams. He remained in Athens for much of the hiatus, working out at an available gym. He has kept a throwing regimen not throwing off a mound but ready to ramp up if and when the time is right. When and where is still to be determined.