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CESSNA: Sad to say Aggies have to settle for good MLB draft

CESSNA: Sad to say Aggies have to settle for good MLB draft

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Texas A&M’s Asa Lacy pitches against New Mexico State on Friday at Blue Bell Park. For more images of the game, visit TheEagle.com online.

Major League Baseball’s draft showed how great a season it could have been for Texas A&M. Pitcher Asa Lacy was taken in the first round with Christian Roa and outfielder Zach DeLoach drafted in the second round. The only other Southeastern Conference team with three players taken in the first two rounds was Mississippi State which had infielders Justin Foscue and Jordan Westburg taken in the first round and pitcher J.T. Ginn drafted in the second round.

Mississippi State was the SEC team most hurt by the draft, but barely when you consider A&M had two pitchers taken in the top 50 picks. Pitching wins championships. A&M for 10 SEC series throwing Lacy in the opener and coming back with Roa could have put the Aggies in position to reach the College World Series.

The only other team with two pitchers drafted in the first two rounds was Louisville which had a pair taken in the top 30. The Cardinals (13-4) were ranked sixth when the season ended in mid-March because of the coronavirus. Louisville, which reached the CWS semifinals last season, was a good bet to return to Omaha. The Aggies (15-3) had some work to do when the season ended. They were ranked 23rd, staring up at 10 SEC schools along with Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Texas. A&M went 0-3 at the Frisco Classic in its only real test of the season. And Roa, while talented, struggled in his last two outings, allowing 10 earned runs with eight walks in nine innings.  

You can’t judge a team’s season by 18-20 nonconference games. The major league teams certainly didn’t. A&M had one of its best drafts with Lacy at fourth becoming the highest pick in school history, topping fellow left-hander Jeff Granger who was picked fifth in 1993. A&M also had three players taken in the top 50 for the first time.

Impressive drafts, though, also don’t make seasons.  A&M had 32 other players on the team. Some teams, such as top-ranked Florida, had just as good if not better underclassmen than the players the Aggies had drafted.

What hurt most is Lacy and Roa didn’t get a chance to see if they could lead A&M to a much-needed defining season. The Aggies are 2-12 in six trips to Omaha, having lost eight straight. The postseason has been full of heartbreaks, topped by the 1989 seemingly dream team, which lost two home games to LSU to come up short of Omaha. More recently, there were the losses to TCU in super regionals in 2015 and 2016. So many times the Aggies have been so close to greatness, only to come up short. A&M’s last victory in Omaha was in 1993. So maybe the pandemic did the Aggies a favor. That negative approach isn’t what sports is about. It’s about competing for championships, which is what most of the nation’s spring sport athletes were denied.

This might have been the year the Aggies went to the College World Series and Lacy could have pitched a gem, much like Granger did 27 years ago in a 5-1 victory over Kansas.

Unfortunately, we’ll never know. And that’s what hurts the most.

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Texas A&M remains hopeful 100,000 fans will be at Kyle Field for the season opener, but it needs to start planning for 51,366 and who makes the cut.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday told the state’s 12 FBS athletic directors that it’s highly unlikely venues this fall will be at more than 50% capacity, because of the coronavirus.

When the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball tournament was canceled on March 12 the hope was that we’d have COVID-19 in the review mirror sooner than later. That hasn’t happened yet, 95 days later with A&M’s season opener against Abilene Christian on Sept. 5 only 82 days away. And while that’s almost three months, fans eventually will need answers in a timely matter.

As things reopen, we’ve seen a spike in positive cases, especially this past week. Abbott’s projection that venues will be at the 50% capacity seems logical. Things could improve, and we certainly hope they will, but social distancing and limiting people at anything, including football games, might be a way of life for now.

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