The Florida Gators clubhouse had never had a particularly exciting first round of the Major League Baseball Draft under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan.
That is, until Monday night.
Mike Zunino was drafted third overall by the Seattle Mariners, making him not only the highest Florida draftee in O’Sullivan’s tenure but also in Gators baseball history. His selection at third overall made him the highest Florida player taken since right-handed pitcher Billy Bullock went in the second round at No. 70 overall in 2009.
He was the first UF player drafted in the first round since first baseman Matt LaPorta went seventh overall in 2007, with Zunino becoming the 13th first-round pick from Florida.
Below is a recap of what went down on the first two days of the 2012 MLB Draft as it pertains to the Florida Gators. We’ll keep this page updated constantly throughout Wednesday’s final rounds as the remainder of the draft unfolds.
2012 MLB Draft Schedule
Round 1: Monday, June 4, at 7 p.m. ET on MLB Network
Rounds 2-15: Tuesday, June 5, at 12 p.m. ET on MLB.com
Rounds 16-40: Wednesday, June 6, at 12 p.m. ET on MLB.com
Florida Players Drafted
Round (Overall). POS – Player – Team
1 (3). C Mike Zunino – Seattle Mariners
1 (31). LHP Brian Johnson – Boston Red Sox
2 (61). SS Nolan Fontana – Houston Astros
2 (82). LHP Steven Rodriguez – Los Angeles Dodgers
3 (118). RHP Austin Maddox – Boston Red Sox
7 (219). OF Preston Tucker – Houston Astros
7 (244). RHP Hudson Randall – Detroit Tigers
9 (292). OF Daniel Pigott – New York Mets
20 (631). RHP Greg Larson – Boston Red Sox
Florida Signees Drafted
Round (Overall). POS – Player – High School – Team
1 (29). OF Lewis Brinson – Coral Springs HS (Florida) – Texas Rangers
1 (41). RHP Lance McCullers – Jesuit HS (Florida) – Houston Astros
1 (49). RF Jessie Winker – Olympia HS (Florida) – Cincinnati Reds
2 (73). OF Max White – Williston HS (Florida) – Colorado Rockies
3 (103). RHP Jonathan Sandfort – Winter Springs HS (Florida) – Pittsburgh Pirates
3 (104). SS Avery Romero – St. Augustine Pedro Menendez HS (Florida) – Miami Marlins
Day 1 – 2012 MLB Draft Recap – Round 1
Florida started off the draft with a bang, as catcher Mike Zunino was drafted third overall by the Seattle Mariners. He became the highest Florida player ever taken in the MLB Draft, topping former Florida right-handed pitcher John Burke, who went No. 6 overall in 1991.
Zunino was only the second Florida catcher ever taken in the first round, cementing the former SEC Player of the Year’s legacy in Gainesville before he heads to the big leagues.
He wasn’t the only player with Florida ties drafted in the first round, either. Gators outfielder signee Lewis Brinson was taken just before the end of the first round, going to the Texas Rangers at the No. 29 overall pick.
He was followed moments later by a current Florida player. The Boston Red Sox drafted Brian Johnson with the 31st overall pick, the last pick in the first round before compensatory selections. Johnson became the first lefty in Florida history drafted in the first round (non-secondary draft).
A handful of other Gators signees also worked their way into the first day of action as compensatory selections.
Right-handed pitcher Lance McCullers was drafted 41st overall by the Houston Astros in the compensatory round. He was projected by many as a mid-first-round selection. He is slotted $1,258,700 in the No. 41 spot, but his dropping down the board so far probably makes him college-bound barring a great offer by the Astros.
About 10 minutes later, Florida outfielder signee Jesse Winker was drafted 49th by the Cincinnati Reds. He was projected as a potential first-round pick for much of the fall before dropping a bit down in the last few months leading up to the draft.
You can find comprehensive recaps and more on each player or signee, including the likelihood the juniors and signees have of actually playing for the Gators in 2013 below.
Day 2 – 2012 MLB Draft Recap – Rounds 2-15
The day started off with a bang for the Florida Gators. Major League teams wasted absolutely no time picking up more Florida players, with the Houston Astros grabbing shortstop Nolan Fontana with the first pick in the second round, the 61st pick overall.
Fontana was projected right around that range and narrowly missed out on giving Florida its first-ever year with three first-round selections. In any case, he’s a safe pick for the Houston Astros and will likely sign and forego his senior year at Florida.
After Fontana was taken, another Gators signee was taken, the fourth in this signing class. Outfielder Max White was drafted 73rd overall, in the second round, by the Colorado Rockies.
The pick made him the third of four Florida signees taken in the first 73 picks of the MLB Draft. Florida will lose Daniel Pigott and Preston Tucker in the outfield following the 2012 season, but could return Tyler Thompson for a sixth year after he suffered a torn ACL. In any case, getting any of the three outfield signees who have already been drafted would be huge for the Gators.
A few minutes after White was selected, the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted Steven Rodriguez. The lefty was taken in the second round with the 82nd overall pick, and he could have one of the quickest rises through the minors thanks to his well-polished arsenal.
Florida then had two signees drafted in back-to-back picks. The Pittsburgh Pirates took right-handed pitcher Jonathan Sandfort in the third round with the 103rd overall pick, and then the Miami Marlins took shortstop Avery Romero in the third round with the 104th overall pick.
Their selections gave Florida six signees taken in the first three rounds of the draft.
The Gators then had another pitcher taken, the third of the draft. The Boston Red Sox drafted Austin Maddox in the third round with the 118th overall pick of the draft, rejoining him with former teammate Brian Johnson. Johnson was taken with the last pick in the first round by the Red Sox on Monday.
Florida waited four rounds for its next draft pick. The Houston Astros picked their third player with Florida ties when they drafted Preston Tucker in the seventh round with the No. 219 overall pick. Tucker joins teammate Nolan Fontana and Gators signee Lance McCullers as an Astros draft choice.
The fourth Florida pitcher was taken later in the seventh round, when Hudson Randall was drafted by the Detroit Tigers at No. 244 overall. Randall’s stock dipped somewhat after missing a few starts this season due to an arm injury, which cost him some velocity on his fastball.
Outfielder Daniel Pigott became the surprise pick of the day for the Gators when the senior speedster was selected in the ninth round with the 292nd overall selection by the Cincinnati Reds.
Day 3 – 2012 MLB Draft Live Blog – Rounds 16-40 – 12 p.m. ET
The final day of the draft was quiet for the Gators through the first four rounds until the Boston Red Sox selected Florida right-handed pitcher Greg Larson in the 20th round with the 631st overall pick. He’s the third Gators pitcher drafted by the Red Sox, joining Johnson and Maddox.
GatorCountry.com will update this section throughout the day Wednesday as Florida players and signees are drafted.