Baseball Draft Did No Favors For UF

You ever watch the awards shows when they introduce all of the nominees and show them all at once as the winner is announced? Well that gives you an idea what it's like to be a college baseball coach in June. When day one of the draft was completed, several current and future Gators had their name called, setting up negotiations as to whether their future would include pro ball or college.

Gator Coach Pat McMahon said all the right things about the draft in terms of being happy for his players and looking forward to seeing how the process works out. And most of him means it. McMahon is the kindest man to ever coach a team at the University of Florida and he will always have the best interests of his kids at heart, even as those interests conflict with the interests of next year's team. That's just him. Still, McMahon has a lot of scrambling to do after the big league organizations took a big bite out of his 2007 roster and recruiting class.

Most Decisions Should Come Quickly

Last year Florida was devastated by Justin Tordi and Alan Horne agreeing to terms very close to the start of the new school year. While Horne's departure was expected, Tordi's was not. It left Florida without a true shortstop and the Gators paid for it defensively all year long. While there's a chance some negotiations may drag out, I suspect the four members of the 2006 Gators who were drafted Tuesday will be signing pro contracts in rather short fashion. Let's look at each situation.

Adam Davis: Despite a disappointing junior season spent playing out of position at shortstop Davis was chosen in the third round by the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe was clearly paying more attention to Davis' sensational sophomore campaign in which he demonstrated both power (12 homers) and speed (24 stolen bases. Davis may end up at second base or centerfield professionally, but either way I look for Cleveland to get this done in a hurry.

Brian Jeroloman: J-Ro is also a virtual lock for pro ball after being tabbed in the sixth round by Toronto. He is limited offensively, but is an outstanding defensive catcher and handles pitchers well. Those skills are in short supply professionally and the Blue Jays will likely overpay to make sure they get this high quality kid in the fold.

Gavin Dickey: A very intriguing prospect because of his long time dual sport status, Dickey could end up being a steal for the Mariners in round 12. Gavin showed progress and potential this season and he has yet to dedicate himself to baseball year 'round. His character is off the charts and Seattle would be foolish not to get him signed.

Matt LaPorta: Some day we may be reading about all the teams that passed on one of the most natural power hitters in the draft. Three different times during the draft I yelled at my computer screen for my team, the Yankees to grab the big fella. Instead, Boston gets the powerful first baseman. Don't let the round fool you, LaPorta won't be settling for 14th-round money. And Boston rarely lets one get away.

The bottom line is I would be stunned if any of this foursome ends up in Orange and Blue next season.

Recruiting Class Also Hit Hard

As if losing those guys wasn't enough, McMahon also saw the pros show great interest in the Gators' signing class and that group is bound to be thinned out in a hurry. Pitcher Colton Willems from Fort Pierce was the first round pick of Washington and infielder Adrian Cardenas from Miami was grabbed as a supplemental pick between the first two rounds by Philadelphia. Both will be looking at seven-figure offers that will be all but impossible to turn down.

Another big hit came when Florida's likely starting shortstop for '07, Chase Fontaine, was tabbed by Atlanta in the second round. Fontaine, a lifelong Braves fan actually lived in Atlanta for a time. The St Augustine Nease/Daytona Beach Community College product hit .404 last year with eleven homers. Instead of him stepping right into the middle of the Gator lineup he'll be stepping into a Braves uniform.

One other recruit was chosen on day one. Pitcher Brandon Holden of Coral Springs was chosen in lucky round 13 by Pittsburgh. The Pirates are notoriously cheap so that gives the Gators hope there.

Two Football Recruits Tabbed

Two members of Urban Meyer's signing class were also chosen on day one and the odds are one will go pro and the other will be practicing with the football team this fall.

Derrick Robinson of Gainesville's PK Yonge School was grabbed at the top of round four by Kansas City. Don't let that fool you. The Royals will soon be run by one of the top guys in the game and they will get their players signed. Shoot, Robinson may be signed before I finish typing this piece.

Riley Cooper from Clearwater was also chosen on Tuesday, going to the Phillies in the 15th round. Cooper would have gone much higher had he not indicated a strong preference for a two-sport college career and that's not likely to change.

All in all, a good day for eight kids with ties to the University of Florida, and not such a great day for the baseball coach. At least he can be grateful about one thing; the rue that keeps college freshmen off the draft boards until their junior season kept the pros from swiping Bryan Augenstein too


Fightin Gators Top Stories