Several Florida Gators baseball players are expected to be selected over the next three days of the Major League Baseball Draft, which begins at 7 p.m. Monday.
There are dozens of 2012 MLB Mock Drafts across the Internet these days, so we at GatorCountry.com figured we would put together our own projections, with a twist. We also take a stab at the possibility each current Florida junior will sign a professional contract, or return to school.
Gator Country’s Andrew Spivey has been combing the websites and talking with various sources to come up with this list and percentages heading into the 2012 MLB Draft:
C Mike Zunino- The likelihood Zunino returns is highly unlikely as he projects as a top-5 pick and he has nothing else to prove or gain — other than a degree — by returning to school for his senior season. In other words, the chance Big Mike returns is zero percent.
LHP/DH/1B Brian Johnson- Barring a crazy turn of events, Johnson should be drafted in the first two rounds, if not the first round. I think thee is less than a 10-percent chance he returns to Florida next year. Johnson has pretty showed all he is capable of — on the mound and at the plate — as a college player.
SS Nolan Fontana- Much like Zunino and Johnson, Fontana is projected to be drafted in the first two rounds. If that happens, I would say he has less than a 10% chance to return to Florida. Fontana is a big league shortstop defensively and with a little improving offensively he could be a really good leadoff or two hole hitter in the big leagues.
LHP Steven Rodriguez- I would say he signs unless he falls majorly down draft boards this week. Rodriguez has proven he can be a reliable arm out of the bullpen and could one day but a excellent setup man for a professional team. Chances are less than 10 percent he returns as well.
RHP Austin Maddox- Maddox likely will turn into a different scenario than the aforementioned pitchers. At the beginning of the season, he was a surefire choice to be selected in one of the first two rounds. However, he has slipped due to arm problems late this season. Maddox still projects to go in the first three rounds, but if he slips much further than that, he could return to college. I would say the chances are about 15-20 percent he returns. A full season of being healthy would help Maddox ease the worries of some big league teams.
RHP Hudson Randall- Hudson Randall may be the guy that lost the most money this season as his stock took a dip when he missed a couple of midseason starts. Randall’s arm troubles caused his velocity to dip a tad and that has teams worrying if that’s just a sign of things to come. If Randall is drafted in the top 10 rounds, I believe he leaves. But if he is outside of the first 10 rounds, I think he returns to Florida. If he returns and can stay healthy for an entire season while regaining his velocity, he could be drafted in the first two rounds next year. It all depends on what round he goes in this year, but I say there is a 30 percent chance Randall returns to Florida next year.
Tyler Thompson- When Thompson tore his ACL, he fell considerably on the draft boards. I fully believe another year at Florida would benefit Thompson, especially at the plate because everyone already knows how strong he is defensively. He could go ahead and sign, but a full year of staying helthy will make him a lot more money a year from not. That said, I say there is a 75 percent chance Thompson returns to the Gators next year.
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