Tonight is the night. The 2016 Major League Baseball Draft will be in full swing beginning at 7 PM. The three day event consists of 40 rounds and a total of 1,186 picks. Rounds 1 and 2 tonight will be televised on MLB Network; all the other rounds can be followed online.
For the Florida Gators, this is arguably one of the best draft classes to come out of Gainesville. These juniors have been making an impact for the Gators since they stepped foot on campus. AJ Puk, Buddy Reed, Logan Shore, Dane Dunning, Peter Alonso, and Shaun Anderson are the six Gators projected to go in the top three rounds of this year’s draft. ESPN Senior Baseball Writer Keith Law says he doesn’t think there is a college team in the country that has more top prospects in this years draft class than Florida does.
— Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) June 9, 2016
Puk, the 6-foot-7 lefty from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has been projected to be the first pick of the draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. If not, the Reds at the number two pick and the Rockies at four are other possible landing spots. No matter what, don’t expect him to be on the draft board for very long. Puk has a 3.21 ERA and has struck out 95 batters so far this season. He has some of the best stuff in this draft with a fast ball reaching 99 miles an hour and a slider that is 88-90. to go along with a developing change up.
Law says that he has had Puk as the number one pick on all three of his mock drafts and thinks if he doesn’t go first, he’ll go second. Puk only has two wins this season but Law says that wins aren’t the only thing scouts look for in evaluating a prospect. Out of high school in the 2013 draft, Puk was picked in the 35th round.
Also drafted in the 35th round of the 2013 draft was outfielder Buddy Reed. This Maryland native is one of the best all-around athletes in this class. Reed is hitting .255 with 32 RBIs and a team high 24 stolen bases. Law says he’s a plus runner and an excellent center fielder but analytics will see that he hasn’t hit well and his overall contact rate is below average. Reed was a member of the 2015 USA Collegiate National Baseball team along side teammates AJ Puk and Logan Shore.
Logan Shore, a righty from Coon Rapids, Minnesota is another Gator expected to high in the draft tonight. The 2016 SEC pitcher of the Year has been extremely consistent this year. Shore has an 11-0 record, a 2.44 ERA and 29 career wins, two shy of a school record. Law thinks that Shore will go somewhere in the second round as a performance pick, because he’s performed well enough to be the Friday night starter on the best team in the country. Shore has command, he excels by changing speeds and hitting spots; he possesses an average fastball but many consider his change up to be his best pitch. Shore was drafted in the 29th round in 2013.
MLB Network analyst Jonathan Mayo spoke very highly of pitcher Dane Dunning. He says Dunning can be a starter at the next level with a great fastball and excellent command. Dunning, who has started, closed and been a reliever this year, is 5-3 with a 2.50 ERA with 78 strike outs. He was drafted in the 34th round in 2013.
Other Gators who you can expect to see get drafted are pitcher Shaun Anderson and first baseman Peter Alonso. Anderson is 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA and 13 saves this season as Florida’s closer. He was Mr. Irrelevant, the last pick of the 40th round in the 2013 draft. Even after missing about four weeks from an injured hand, Alonso leads the Gators with a .368 batting average, 55 RBIs and 12 home runs. The Tampa native was the only one of these six Gators to not be drafted out of high school.
The 2016 Amateur Baseball Draft runs from June 9-11.