The Rule 5 amateur draft has come and gone. Yesterday, I wrote that the draft was kind to Florida, while detailing that I believed most of the six Gators who were on the roster last season would likely sign professional contracts.
You might have though to yourself, “what is this guy talking about? Everybody is leaving.”
Well, today we’ll show you why the draft kept a smile on Kevin O’Sullivan’s face. O’Sullivan and his staff have proven over and over their aptitude to scout and recruit prospects from all over the country.
College baseball coaches aren’t afforded the luxury of football or basketball coaches who know that when a high school senior signs his name on a national letter of intent, he will be on campus for at least a season. The MLB amateur draft selects hundreds of high school prospects each year, meaning college coaches have to find not only the best players they can sign but a mix of players they know will get on campus
With a class of 14 players, O’Sullivan recruited a good mix of players that will make contributions in a few years, some kids who can make an impact as freshmen and, of course, a few players who were expected to be high draft picks and not make it to school.
Let’s take a look at the 2014 recruiting class, breaking it down by who we believe will sign a professional contract, who has a tough decision to make and who will land in Gainesville.
Goodbye, we hardly knew you.
Grant Holmes, RHP, 6-2, 190, Conway, SC, Conway
Drafted: Round 1 – Pick 22
Holmes was slated to be picked somewhere in the middle of the first round but lasted until No. 22 overall where the Los Angeles Dodgers scooped him up. As the 22nd pick, Holmes is slotted to receive a contract offer around $1,980,500 from the Dodgers but that number isn’t concrete and he could sign for something higher.
Holmes has a plus arm and good off speed stuff. He’s likely to sign but Florida never expected him to get to campus. You sign guys like Holmes in the off-chance that something crazy happens and they decide to pass up on millions of dollars — like Karsten Whitson did — and go to school.
Alex Abbot, OF, 6-1, 195, Tifton, GA, Tifton
Drafted: Round 6 – Pick 179
Abbot was the second signee selected and went higher than most had projected him. The Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim picked Abbot and the pick is slotted to get a contract offer around $244,700.
Because Abbot was selected higher than expected, thus slotting him for a more lucrative deal, he will have a decision to make.
The smooth fielding outfielder with a good bat would help the Gators in 2015 but a quarter million dollar offer (or more) could keep him away from Gainesville.
Weston Davis, RHP, 6-4, 185, Bradenton, FL, Manatee
Drafted: Round 11 – Pick 334
Davis was picked slightly higher than expected. The righty throws in the low-to-mid 90s and could improve his draft stock slightly with a good collegiate career. However, the Nationals will make him a good offer, one that will likely lead him to sign a deal with the NL East club.
JJ Schwarz, C, 6-2, 190, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, Palm Beach Gardens
Drafted: Round 17 – Pick 506
On signing day Holmes was the jewel of the class. After the draft, that distinction moves over to Schwarz who was selected much later than expected.
Schwarz was expected to potentially hear his name called on the first day of the draft but fell all the way to the 17th round. Schwarz tweeted that he will attend school and this is unbelievable news for the Gators.
With Taylor Gushue gone to the majors, Braden Mattson will likely move back to his more natural position of catcher where he isn’t the defensive liability that he was in right field and first base last season.
Schwarz will platoon with Mattson behind the plate and he brings a serious power bat to a Gator lineup that needs more pop.
Getting Schwarz on campus is a surprise and a delightful one at that for O’Sullivan and his staff.
Michael Rivera, C, 5-10, 180, Venice, FL, Venice Senior
Drafted: Round 33 – Pick 1,002
Rivera will sign with Florida after being selected late in the draft by the Oakland A’s. Rivera was expected to come in and compete for a spot but with the surprise addition of Schwarz to the team, might have trouble getting playing time early.
Logan Browning, LHP, 5-7, 160, Lakeland, FL, Lakeland Christian
Drafted: Round 36 – Pick 1,085
The short lefty and son of Tom Browning (threw the only perfect game in Cincinnati Reds history) will pitch for the Gators next season. His fastball has reached the low 90s but Browning normally sits in the high 80s. He has a plus curveball and a slider that has potential but needs some work.
Dalton Guthrie, SS, 6-0, 170, Sarasota, FL, Venice Senior
Drafted: Round 40 – Pick 1,190
Guthrie is an immediate impact guy for the Gators. With a plus fielder with a smooth swing, Guthrie could step in immediately and play right away if Casey Turgeon signs a pro deal. Guthrie will come to school and will find a way to get on the field in 2015.
Taylor Lewis, RHP, 6-1, 170, Chipola College (JUCO)
Drafted: Round 40 – Pick 1193
A two-year player at the junior college level, getting selected in the final round of the MLB Draft won’t entice Lewis to sign a deal. He’ll come to Florida and hope to have a season that will improve his draft stock for next season.
Taylor Lane, INF, 6-2, 196, Chesapeake, VA, IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
Drafted: Round 40 – Pick 1,196
Lane is a smooth fielder and a talented athlete. He has some work to do at the plate but is a player that will help Florida in the future. He was always expected to make it to campus.
Alex Faedo, RHP, 6-5, 210, Tampa, FL, Alonso
Drafted: 40 – Pick 1,210
Faedo is a tall, hard-throwing righty who will begin his career working out of the bullpen.