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Michael Guldberg, Baron Radcliff drafted from Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech’s Michael Guldberg. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Georgia Tech’s Michael Guldberg. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Georgia Tech launched two players into professional baseball Thursday night, as outfielders Michael Guldberg and Baron Radcliff were selected in the third and fifth rounds, respectively, of the Major League Baseball draft.

Guldberg, a high-contact hitter from Walton High, was taken by the Oakland A’s. Radcliff, a power-hitting lefty from Norcross High, was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies. Given the healthy six-figure signing bonuses likely available to them, they are probable to sign and begin their professional careers.

Both part of coach Danny Hall’s 2017 signing class, they would seem testaments to hard work and development in their three seasons as Yellow Jackets. Coming to Tech, Radcliff was ranked the No. 12 high-school prospect in the state of Georgia by Perfect Game scouting service, 50 spots ahead of Guldberg at No. 62.

Thursday, on the second and final night of a draft shortened from the standard 40 rounds to five as a cost-saving measure, Guldberg was taken No. 98 overall (the fourth player either from a college or high school in Georgia) and Radcliff was No. 146 (fifth among state players).

With the selections, Tech has now had at least one player (and usually more) in each of the past 40 drafts and 20 in a row with more than one pick.

The signing bonus slot value for Guldberg is $593,100 and $371,600 for Radcliff.

Shortstop Luke Waddell, who was rated the No. 116 draft prospect by Baseball America and No. 125 by mlb.com, could face a decision of a signing-bonus offer of $20,000 (the max allowed to undrafted players) or returning to Tech and going into the draft next year. Waddell would again be a junior due to the NCAA’s decision to grant spring-sport athletes an extra year of eligibility. The same applies for Tech pitchers Brant Hurter and Andy Archer, also both thought to be possible draft prospects. Jonathan Hughes, another pitcher, can come back for another senior season.

In May, Hall said that if any of his juniors weren’t drafted, he would be “pretty confident” that they’d return. Hughes, who was a redshirt senior this past season, could be a different case.

Interestingly, Tech signee Kevin Parada, rated the No. 48 prospect by mlb.com, was not drafted. Only two players rated higher than him by were not selected. It almost certainly means that Hall will be taking receipt of one of the top catching prospects in the country, perhaps the next to join the line of Tech greats Jason Varitek, Matt Wieters and Joey Bart.

No other Tech signees were drafted, either.

Guldberg was rated the No. 310 draft prospect by Baseball America, which opined that “he would likely be higher on draft boards” if his freshman and junior seasons hadn’t been shortened, the former by a shoulder injury and the latter by the coronavirus pandemic.

He was a standout at the plate from his freshman season, when he hit .368 in 38 at-bats before his injury. In his sophomore season in 2019, he started 59 games – mostly at designated hitter – and led the Jackets and was second in the ACC in batting average at .355. He reached base in 51 out of his 60 games played.

As a junior, he was hitting .450 – first in the ACC and tied for 16th in Division I – when the season was canceled in mid-March, and had struck out only three times in 60 at-bats.

He has been a star in the classroom as well. The son of a biomedical engineering professor (father) and research engineer (mother), both at Tech, Guldberg holds a 3.90 GPA in industrial engineering. Thursday, he was named a first-team academic All-American for the second year in a row. He became only the second Tech baseball player to earn first-team academic All-America honors twice, following L.J. Yankosky in 1997-98.

Radcliff, who broke out as a sophomore in 2019 with 12 home runs and a slugging percentage of .503 to earn second-team All-ACC honors, was rated the No. 227 draft prospect by Baseball America. The outlet raised questions about his strikeout rate, but raved about his raw power. As a sophomore, he had the longest home run hit at Tech’s Russ Chandler Stadium (471 feet) and the hardest-hit ball (exit velocity of 118.9 mph).

It’s conceivable that Radcliff has more room for development than most prospects in the draft. He didn’t play as much baseball as many of his Tech teammates because he was a two-sport athlete at high school, devoting much of his time to playing quarterback for the Norcross football team. Baseball America wrote of Radcliff that the canceled season impacted him as much as any college prospect “as he has the upside and tools to go as high as the second round, but he needed a strong full season of at-bats to prove that to scouting departments.”