EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – After 20 rounds and 614 picks, the 2023 MLB Draft is in the books and three former MSU Spartans were selected.
Shortstop Mitch Jebb was selected in the second round with the 42nd overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates, making him the highest-drafted Spartan since Mark Mulder in 1998.
First baseman Brock Vradenburg was then drafted in the third round with the 78th overall pick by the Miami Marlins and catcher Bryan Broecker was selected in the 13th round with the 393rd overall pick by the Tampa Bay Rays.
For the three of them, this week is the realization of a boyhood dream.
“I was all amped up, I was excited, not really thinking much,” Jebb said of draft night. “Just had that giddy feeling inside where you’re just like so excited and you just don’t want to go to bed.”
MLB Draft week is always a joyous time for MSU baseball coach Jake Boss and this year was an especially successful one for his program. According to the university, Jebb and Vradenburg’s selections mark the first time since 1969 that the MSU program has had multiple players drafted in the first three rounds in the same class.
Additionally, none of the three MSU players selected had been drafted out of high school, a testament to their hard work and development under Boss and his staff at MSU.
“We’ve always had the idea that we needed to get the projectible guy that probably wasn’t a threat to lose to the draft out of high school,” Boss said. “But bring them in here and get them plenty of at-bats early on in their careers so that they’re ready to go out again after their junior year.”
Draft week is an exhilarating start to a long road to the big leagues for Jebb, Vradenburg and Broecker.
“It’s kind of like a ladder,” Jebb said. “You’ve got to take every step to get there, you can’t just jump right up there. I only know what I know. I’m not sure what it takes [to get there]. I’ve got to learn and develop and eventually I’ll get there.”
But while a long journey lies ahead for the three former Spartans, Boss said he is confident each of them have the tools to be successful.
“Mitch runs really well, he’s a dynamic type of player. He’s one of those guys that can literally change a game. Brock proved that he can do that in a different way this year and then Bryan defensively has just continued to get better and better and better since he’s gotten here. It’s another guy that does a lot of work on his own and he deserves all the credit.”
For Boss and the MSU program, the joy of draft week is accompanied by the unfortunate reality of a future without these players in a Spartan uniform.
“It’s bittersweet probably for us as a staff because as excited as we are to have those guys go out and play pro ball, you know they’re not in our program anymore,” Boss said. “So it’s similar to Senior Day to a certain degree.”
An uncertain challenge lies ahead, both for the players drafted and for MSU’s efforts to find their replacements.
But this week is a chance to celebrate how far the three players have come and the memories they’ve left behind at MSU. Jebb, Vradenburg and Broecker were once little boys who dreamed of reaching the big leagues. Now, they’re young men for whom those dreams have a chance to become reality.