The Gator signees stole the show in the first round of MLB Draft. But it was the Florida players who took the spotlight on second day. Seven Gators were taken for the lead among college selections through the first 10 rounds.
After not hearing his name called Sunday night, Jud Fabian got the ball rolling for Florida Monday. The Boston Red Sox selected the Gator center fielder in the second round with the 40th overall pick. That’s definitely a slip from where he was projected for so long. But as the strikeout numbers rose, his stock likely fell because of it. However, the pick’s slot value sits at $1,856,700 but Fabian might sign over slot considering Boston has the sixth-highest bonus pool.
Florida’s Friday night guy was the second Gator to go in Round 2 as the Cleveland Indians took Tommy Mace with the 69th pick. The Gator right-hander pitched to a 4.38 earned run average in 16 appearances with 113 strikeouts in 90.1 innings in 2021. MLB.com had him as the 45th overall prospect and noted how he made efforts to improve his entire four-pitch mix and showed it in 2021.
Jake Fox was the only Gator signee selected on the second day of the draft. The Indians selected the Lakeland Christian shortstop at 95th overall in the third round. His slot value sits at over $610,000. Not only does he have a great name, but his bat’s garnered him plenty of attention. A great approach and fast hands to generate plenty of bat speed, Fox can also smash some extra-base hits. MLB.com comps him to current Gators infielder Colby Halter.
The next Gator selected was slugger Nathan Hickey. Hickey chose Florida after going undrafted out of high school in 2019. So, he worked his way up to be selected in the fifth round and 136th overall. The pick’s valued at $410,000. MLB.com mentions how he raised his offensive profile and it is likely what will carry him to the big leagues as he’s viewed with a Kyle Schwarber-like trajectory.
Christian Scott went six picks later at 142 to the New York Mets. A reliable presence coming out of the bullpen, Florida relied on Scott a lot as the starting pitching and sometimes other relievers ran into trouble several times in 2021. And he projects as a bullpen guy too at the next level. He’s a fastball-slider pitcher with plenty of ability to miss bats but does own a curve and changeup too.
The Washington Nationals then selected Gator left fielder Jacob Young at pick 203 in the seventh round. The Florida leadoff man, and one of Kevin O’Sullivan’s most consistent bats, can spray the ball all over the field. He’s definitely a throwback kind of player as the three-year Gator showed nothing but hustle on the diamond. He could play center if he doesn’t stay in left but some even think he could play second base like he did in 2019.
And apparently there must be some law about drafting Gator pitchers together. Logan Shore and AJ Puk to Oakland, Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar to Kansas City and now Tommy Mace and Jack Leftwich to Cleveland. The Indians took Leftwich at 216 overall. A fourth-year junior, Leftwich saw himself moved to the bullpen after struggling as a starter and effectively became the Gator closer and a great multi-inning reliever. His fastball sits at 94-96 mph and that deadly slider (which could be an absolute weapon if he can get it over for strikes) will play as he’s seen to likely continue his days a bullpen arm.
Franco Alemán rounded out the Gators’ day as evidently Cleveland decided to take its third Gator pitcher. After stints with FIU and St. Johns River State College, the 6-foot-6-inch righty was projected as a late-inning, high-leverage reliever for Florida in 2021. But, as he and the starting rotation had their issues, Alemán found himself as the Sunday starter. He owns a nice sinker but opted for four seamers up in the zone and more velocity. MLB.com says “While Alemán throws hard, his fastball has had a tendency to get hit up in the zone because he doesn’t command the pitch well enough, leading some to think he might need to go to the sinker, which still can get ground balls, more at the next level, where he could be a sinker-slider type reliever.”
The final day of the MLB Draft starts at noon on Tueday. From there, it’ll finish off with rounds 11-20.