Tonight the Major League Draft will take place and several Florida Gators players and signees will hear their names called and have their dreams of playing professional baseball realized.
The Gators’ 2020 season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic and that, unfortunately, means the last fans will get to see two pitchers in Orange and Blue. Both Tommy Mace and Jack Leftwich will be drafted in the five-round, truncated version of the 2020 MLB Draft and both should sign professional contracts. Additionally, Florida signee Zac Veen will likely be the first high school player selected on Wednesday and is expected to sign a professional contract.
The 18-year old lefty from Port Orange will be the first player with a Gator connection selected. Many project that Veen will be the first high school player selected in the draft and a possible top 5 or 10 pick.
Veen is a lanky 6’4” with a frame that will fill out. He already displays exceptional power and pop in his swing. He projects as a center fielder or right fielder with his arm and speed. His 60-yard dash time has been as low as 6.7, all while adding muscle, going from 165 pounds to 190 pounds during his high school career.
Fans can dream of Veen patrolling center field at the new ballpark but shouldn’t hold their breath.
Mace is one of the top junior pitchers in college baseball and rated the No. 69 prospect in the draft according to MLB.com.
Prior to his junior season, Mace was given the opportunity to try out for the USA Collegiate National Team. He made it all the way to the final cut before falling just shy of making the final roster. Mace pressed on into the season, where he was the Gators’ Friday night starter. Mace posted a 3-0 record with a 1.67 ERA. His last outing was seven scoreless innings against South Florida, giving up just two hits and two walks to six strikeouts.
Mace has the physical build MLB teams look for on the mound and has been up to 96 MPH on the hill. He has a plus-plus slider, a curveball, and continues to develop a changeup that he was just beginning to throw more consistently before the season ended. Mace could hear his name called late Wednesday but he surely won’t last past the second round.
Leftwich had a rough sophomore season dealing with both blister issues and an ankle injury that hobbled him throughout the year before finally missing almost a month to let his blisters heal. Leftwich finished that season with a 6-5 record in 13 starts.
Leftwich has a lot of upside, like Mace. The right-hander has a plus fastball that topped out at 97 during the early 2020 season. He has a plus-changeup and a good slider he developed in the Cape Cod League last summer.
Leftwich is currently rated the 145th prospect by MLB.com and is assured to hear his name called in the five-round draft.
Other draft-eligible players
After speaking with coaches and scouts we don’t expect any of Florida’s other draft-eligible players to be selected due to the shortened nature of the 2020 MLB Draft. In a regular year pitchers like Scott, Leuthje, and players like Smith, Young and Langworthy would likely get a call. However with only five rounds this year it’s unlikely.