Kevin O’Sullivan, the Florida Gators baseball coach, must be walking around with a huge smile today. After the shortened MLB draft, Florida will welcome back two of its aces and a loaded draft class for 2021.
Instead of 1,127 players being drafted, the 2020 MLB Draft saw only 160 names called due to the pandemic. That small number of picks could have changed the drafting strategy of some teams.
Before the MLB draft, the Gators were expecting to lose two players and at least one signee. However, things didn’t shake out that way.
No Gators Drafted
The SEC (26) and ACC (20) were the only conferences with at least 20 players selected in this year's MLB Draft. pic.twitter.com/YdkfnMvyGe
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 12, 2020
The SEC proved this week that they are the best conference in the country for baseball. On top of the 26 players drafted, the conference made history this week after three of the top-five picks came from the SEC.
Although the Gators were the top-ranked team in the country last season, no Florida players were taken in the MLB draft this year. No Gators were projected to go in the first round, but junior right-handed pitcher Tommy Mace and pitcher Jack Leftwich were widely projected to go in the next four rounds.
The 6-foot-6-inch Mace is returning to UF in the fall. It has been reported the Mace turned down an offer from a team and will bet on himself to improve his draft stock in the spring.
Can report that Tommy Mace was contacted during the draft and that he turned down a good offer. It wasn't about ability, he knows what he's worth and betting on himself.
He had a number in mind and he's very happy to be coming back to Gainesville.
— Nick de la Torre (@NickdelaTorreGC) June 12, 2020
Mace was a stud in the shortened 2020 season, finishing 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA and 26 strikeouts over 27 innings.
Expect to see Mace as the Friday night starter next season, with Jack Leftwich taking the mound on Saturday’s.
Zac Veen goes pro
Veen was widely considered the top high school prospect in the country. The Port Orange native was the No. 7-ranked prospect heading in the draft, according to MLB Pipeline.
— JD (@OnThunderIsland) June 11, 2020
Veen is a five-tool player with great size. He uses his 6-foot-4 frame and smooth swing to generate a lot of power. Those skills should make him a serious home run threat in the thin Colorado air.
If Veen lives up to his potential, scouts have drawn comparisons to Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich.