Photo courtesy of @GatorsBB via Twitter.

Gators Baseball Stars Welcomed to the Big Leagues

As the 2023 MLB draft kicked off last night, a handful of Gators would hope to hear their names called. After a difficult loss in the National Championship, there were numerous members from the ball club who would be looking to start a new beginning. With three players being taken on day one of the draft, there was no shortage of talent out of Gainesville. Several stars from this year’s team anxiously awaited for the MLB commissioner to announce the picks of the first and second rounds. A total of three former Gators were selected by their respective teams on Sunday night.

Florida’s Langford Makes History

Wyatt Langford became the second-highest pick in UF history. Langford was drafted by the Texas Rangers with the No. 4 overall pick in the first round, making him the highest drafted outfielder the baseball program has ever produced. For the second year in a row, he was awarded All-American status, while this year, having it be unanimous. Langford’s production for the program has been remarkable. He mashed for 21 home runs and 57 RBIs while raking in a .373 batting average during the 2023 season. His impressive offensive production wasn’t the only thing that made him a top five pick. Langford was never shy to flash the leather either, making only one error during 108 career chances.

Waldrep Returns to Home State of Georgia

It was not much longer until another Gator would hear his name called. Former Florida pitcher Hurston Waldrep was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Braves with the No. 24 overall pick. Although Waldrep started his college career at Southern Mississippi, his short time in Gainesville will forever be remembered by Gator Nation. Waldrep became the 19th player taken in the first round in Gator baseball history. He pitches with a competitive fire that is complimented with an elite fastball to round out his arsenal of pitches. In 2023, he had a 10-3 record with a 4.16 ERA and 156 strikeouts. This made it hard for the Braves to keep their eyes off of him.

Sproat’s Wait Well Worth It

The last Gator to hear his name called on day one of the draft was right-handed pitcher Brandon Sproat. The New York Mets selected the Pace, Florida native with the No. 56 overall pick in the second round of the draft. Although he had to wait until after his teammates were selected, his draft stock made him one of the 30-highest picks in Gators baseball history. He has been no stranger to the MLB draft as Sunday marked the third time he has been drafted since 2019, making this year the highest he has been selected.

As the regular season Friday night starter all year long, Sproat put his talents on display for scouts all around the league while putting up impressive statistics. Sproat would go on to shove for 134 strikeouts and a 4.66 ERA with a .222 batting average against in the 2023 season earning him Second Team SEC honors.

 

Rivera Highlights Day Two of Draft for Gators

Day two of the MLB draft will begin on Monday. There are still a handful of Florida baseball players that will be looking to get selected. Highlighting the group will be shortstop, Josh Rivera. Rivera wrapped up a phenomenal college career for the Orange & Blue in 2023. He was highly regarded as one of the most talented shortstops in all of college baseball. That seemed to not be convincing enough for MLB General Managers on day one of the draft. Rivera had an outstanding season that ended with being selected to the College world Series All-Tournament team. It shouldn’t take long to get the call that will send him to the big leagues. Rivera has improved every year at Florida and finished his career with a .290 batting average and 35 home runs.

Coach O’Sullivan’s Draft Background

Florida is no stranger to sending young athletes to the league. With Gators baseball head coach Kevin O’Sullivan as the catalyst, Florida has become a factory for talent year-in and year-out. O’Sullivan saw his tally of former Gator stars drafted grow to 102 while moving his first-round pick total to 13 on Sunday night.

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