One Miami’s strongest and most reliable pitching arms, Slade Cecconi, will realize the classic dream of playing professional baseball after being selected in the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft, with the sophomore going to the Arizona Diamondbacks with the No. 33 overall pick in the first round’s competitive balance sub-round.
He is the highest selected Hurricane since 2016, when Zack Collins was taken 10th overall by the Chicago White Sox, and also the 29th player in program history to go in the first round.
Cecconi was a key piece of UM’s rotation in the shortened 2020 season, earning four starts each during the 12-4 campaign. He logged a 2-1 record, 3.80 ERA and 30 strikeouts after being named to the preseason All-American third team by Baseball America.
It isn’t the first time Cecconi has been drafted; the Baltimore Orioles picked the right-handed pitcher in the 38th round in 2018. He declined the offer to come to UM, and is a relatively rare draft-eligible sophomore by virtue of being 20 years old.
By investing his time to develop at the Division I level, the Oviedo, Fla. native entered the evening as projected first round selection, being named the No. 31 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline.
Cecconi was seen by many as being likely to be picked after teammate Chris McMahon, who was pegged at No. 29 in the MLB Pipeline ranking. Still, both him and McMahon went into the evening supportive of each other’s draft stock and aware of the occasions magnitude.
“I don’t care who goes in front of the other,” Cecconi told WPLG’s Will Manso on Monday. “I just want to see us both have a chance to excel at the next level—whoever we go to—and keep that healthy competition going.”
The right-hander will earn a projected signing bonuses in the seventh figure, with his slot value at $2,202,200. Because of the unique financial challenges faced by MLB due to the pandemic, no drafted player will see more than the first $100,000 of their bonus within a month of signing, with clubs given two years to pay the remainder of each prospect’s sum.
What the Canes look like without Cecconi as well as his fellow hurlers in the weekend rotation may be determined in part by if or when their teammates on the draft bubble are chosen, as well as a number of incoming first-year players’ draft status. McMahon should be selected early in round two, but should senior Van Belle return—as emergency NCAA rules allow due to the pandemic—he could continue to be a key team ace alongside rising sophomore Alex McFarlane and rising junior JP Gates, with the latter of whom not being draft eligible in 2020.