Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan has a pretty good reputation in college baseball circles and professional ones, too. So it shouldn’t be surprising that his present and future Florida Gators received a lot of notice Tuesday on the first day of the 2009 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
The Gators, who finished their second season under O’Sullivan 42-22, two victories short of a berth in the College World Series, had four players taken among the 111 selected on the first day of the three-day draft.
Billy Bullock, the 6-6 junior closer on this year’s team from Balm, Fla., and three members of O’Sullivan’s star-studded 2009 recruiting class – Bobby Borchering of Alva, LeVon Washington of Gainesville and David Holmberg of Port Charlotte – were among Tuesday draftees.
Borchering, a 6-4, 190-pound switch-hitting corner infielder at Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, was the first player with Gator ties selected, taken with the 16th pick of the first round by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Washington, a 5-11, 170-pound second baseman at Buchholz High School, was drafted 30th in the first round by the Tampa Bay Rays, and he told Tampa Bay-area reporters “I’ll be a Ray” and that he had told O’Sullivan and his staff that he was looking to sign with Tampa Bay fairly soon.
The Rays have indicated their plans for Washington, if they sign him, would be to send him to their Gulf Coast Rookie League team in Port Charlotte, where the team conducts spring training and also has a team, the Charlotte Stone Crabs, in the Florida State League. While his shoulder continues to mend, the Gulf Coast Rays could use him as a designated hitter.
The Gators probably also will not see Borchering on campus, either. The Diamondbacks made him their top pick and they believe he will provide power from both sides of the plate while they find a position, either third base or first base, for him.
While Borchering and Washington are likely gone, Bullock and Holmberg have decisions to make after they were taken on back-to-back picks in the second round.
Bullock was the 70th player overall drafted, taken by the Minnesota Twins, an organization that once employed O’Sullivan as a minor league pitching coach in Fort Myers. Then the Chicago White Sox chose Holmberg, a 6-4, 220-pound left-hander from Port Charlotte High School.
Rounds 4-30 will be held Wednesday with the final 20 rounds taking place on Thursday, and other Gators, present and future, are expected to be selected.
Depending on what they are offered in contracts, Bullock and Holmberg could elect to turn them down and play for the Gators.
In Bullock’s case, that would mean just another season. A second-team All-Southeastern Conference selection, Bullock made 34 appearances for the Gators this season, going 3-3 with a 2.64 ERA and 11 saves, third most in the SEC. In 47.2 innings, Bullock had 50 strikeouts, just 22 walks and limited the opposition to a .231 batting average.
If he decides to return for his senior season, Bullock would be following the path taken by former Gator All-American Matt LaPorta. LaPorta, who helped the Gators to the runner-up spot to champion Texas in the 2005 College World Series, missed most of his junior season and slipped down the draft board. A spectacular senior season, however, catapulted LaPorta into the first round where he was taken by the Milwaukee Brewers and later dealt to Cleveland in a trade for CC Sabathia. LaPorta was up with the Indians a few weeks ago but is now back with Columbus (AAA).
Another good season coming out of the bullpen could increase Bullock’s worth and also put him closer to the major leagues.
Holmberg, however, doesn’t have Bullock’s luxury. If he decides not to sign with the White Sox, he is not eligible to be drafted until what would be his junior season at Florida.
Day Two of the MLB Draft begins at noon ET with the first pick of the fourth round and is scheduled to conclude at the end of the 30th round. The final day of the draft, rounds 31-50, will be held Thursday beginning at 11:30 a.m.
2009 MLB FIRST-YEAR PLAYER DRAFT
16. Arizona Diamondbacks, Robert Borchering, 3B, S/R, 6-4, 195, Bishop Verot H.S., Alva, Fla. (Member of Florida’s 2009 recruiting class)
30. Tampa Bay Rays, LeVon Washington, 2B, L/R. 6-0, 170, Buchholz H.S., Gainesville (Second member of Florida’s 2009 recruiting class)
70. Minnesota Twins, William Bullock, RHP, R/R, 6-6, 225, University of Florida
71. Chicago White Sox, David Holmberg, LHP, R/L, 6-4, 220, Port Charlotte H.S., Port Charlotte, Fla. (Third member of Florida’s 2009 recruiting class)
FLORIDA GATORS PRESENT AND FUTURE
The following players on the 2009 Florida Gators baseball roster and members of the fall 2009 incoming freshmen class are eligible to be selected:
Avery Barnes, OF, L/R, 5-11, 170
Kevin Chapman, LHP, L/L, 6-3, 197
Riley Cooper, OF, R/R, 6-4, 215
Matt den Dekker, OF, L/L, 6-1, 205
Tony Davis, LHP, S/L, 5-9, 175
Josh Edmondson, RHP, R/R, 6-0, 196
Patrick Keating, RHP, R/R. 6-2, 215
Stephen Locke, LHP, R/L, 6-2, 190
Mike Mooney, SS, S/R, 5-8, 160
Buddy Munroe, C, R/R, 5-11, 185
Jonathan Pigott, OF, R/R, 6-2, 181
Ben Brown, RHP, R/R, 5-11, 175, Winter Haven H.S., Winter Haven
Cody Dent SS/3B, L/R, 5-11, 160, Park Vista H.S., Boynton Beach
Nolan Fontana, SS, L/R, 5-11, 175, 06/06/91, West Orange H.S., Winter Garden
Danny Healey, RHP, R/R, 6-2, 195, Cooper City H.S., Cooper City
Michael Heller, RHP, R/R, 6-1, 188, 04/25/91, Cardinal Mooney H.S., Sarasota
Brian Johnson, LHP, L/L, 6-4, 225, Cocoa Beach H.S., Cocoa
Austin Maddox, C, R/R, 6-3, 220, 05/13/91, Eagle’s View Academy, Jacksonville
Hudson Randall, RHP, R/R. 6-4, 185, 09/22/90, Dunwoody H.S., Dunwoody, Ga.
Mike Rayl, LHP, L/L, 6-3, 185, 11/01/88, Palm Beach C.C., Lake Worth
Steven Rodriguez, LHP, L/L, 6-3, 215, 04/16/91, Gulliver Prep School, Miami
Patrick Schuster, LHP, R/L, 6-2, 165, 10/30/90, J.W. Mitchell H.S., Holiday
Kamm Washington, OF, L/L, 5-11, 180, 05/04/91 Park Vista H.S., Boynton Beach
Michael Zunino, C, R/R, 6-1, 190, 03/25/91, Mariner H.S., Cape Coral
Wednesday: Draft resumes at noon with the first pick in Round Four and continues through Round 30.
Thursday: Draft resumes at 11:30 a.m. with Round 31 and continues until all 30 Major League teams have passed or the last pick of Round 50, whichever comes first.
ORDER OF SELECTIONS
For Rounds 4-50
112. Washington Nationals, 113. Seattle Mariners, 114. San Diego Padres, 115. Pittsburgh Pirates, 116. Baltimore Orioles, 117. San Francisco Giants, 118. Atlanta Braves, 119. Cincinnati Reds, 120. Detroit Tigers, 121. Colorado Rockies.
122. Kansas City Royals, 123. Oakland Athletics, 124. Texas Rangers, 125. Cleveland Indians, 126. Arizona Diamondbacks, 127. Los Angeles Dodgers, 128. Florida Marlins, 129. St. Louis Cardinals, 130. Toronto Blue Jays, 131. Houston Astros.
132. Minnesota Twins, 133. Chicago White Sox, 134. New York Mets, 135. New York Yankees, 136. Milwaukee Brewers, 137. Philadelphia Phillies, 138. Boston Red Sox, 139. Tampa Bay Rays, 140. Chicago Cubs, 141. Los Angeles Angels.