Becoming a professional baseball player will soon be a reality for a handful of athletes with ties to The Laker/Lutz News coverage area.
The 2018 Major League Baseball Draft ran from June 4 to June 6 — whereby four locals had their names called.
University of North Florida junior right-hander Frank German, who grew up in Lutz and graduated from Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School, represented the highest local draftee when he was taken in the fourth round (127th overall) by the New York Yankees. German recently signed with the club for a reported bonus of $350,000.
German’s college teammate, junior lefty Austin Drury, a Land O’ Lakes native/ Wiregrass Ranch High School product, was also drafted, in the 34th round (1034th overall) by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Meanwhile, a pair of Saint Leo ballplayers also were selected — junior righty/first baseman Jake Sims, in the 31st round (921st overall) by the San Diego Padres; and senior second baseman Zach Scott, in the 32nd round (958th overall) by the Seattle Mariners.
Both Sims, who signed with the Padres on June 12 for an undisclosed amount, and Scott helped Saint Leo University to a 38-11 record and a 21-9 mark in the Sunshine State Conference.
They respectively join 49 other former Lions who have had their name called for the draft, dating back to 1969.
Elsewhere, Saint Leo signee Waylon Richardson was also drafted, in the 40th round (1,187th overall) by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Richardson, a 6-foot-5 righty out of Kankakee (Illinois) Community College, opted to sign with the Phillies for an undisclosed amount, forgoing his eligibility to play baseball for Saint Leo.
The first-year player draft is Major League Baseball’s primary mechanism for assigning amateur baseball players, from high schools, colleges and other amateur baseball clubs, to its 30 teams — which offer up millions of dollars in signing bonuses to its top draftees.
All 30 MLB teams have until July 6 to get 2018 drafted players signed.
There were 40 rounds and 1,214 picks in total, during the three-day draft.
Players came from across the United States and Canada, from high school and college, and from every position on the diamond. There were players from 47 states taken.
Of those picks, 158 were from Florida, second to only California, which yielded 187 selections. Following California and Florida, were Texas (114 draftees), Georgia (65) and North Carolina (49).
Last year’s draft was particular fruitful for area talent.
Among the 2017 crop were four Steinbrenner High School products — Kevin Merrell (first round), Patrick Morris (14th round), Josh Falk (17th round) and CJ Van Eyk (19th round); Bishop McLaughlin products Nate Pearson (first round) and Paul Coumoulos (40th round); and Sunlake High School’s Tommy Mace (14th round).
Here’s a closer look at the local 2018 MLB draftees:
Frank German, right-handed pitcher (New York Yankees-fourth round, 127th overall)
Hometown: Lutz/Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School
College: University of North Florida
As a fourth round selection, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound righty became the highest-drafted pitcher in North Florida program history, which previously never had an arm drafted within the top five rounds.
This past season, German went 8-3, posting a team-leading 1.58 earned run average and 108 strikeouts in 91.1 innings. He allowed one or fewer earned runs in 11 of his 14 starts, while notching six or more strikeouts in 13 contests. He also allowed just 14 walks and held opponent bats to just a .190 average.
German picked up All-American honors from D1Baseball (2nd team) and Perfect Game/Rawlings (3rd team), as well as being named an American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) All-South Region (2nd team) selection.
Additionally, he was a First-Team All-Atlantic Sun Conference honoree and was named a semifinalist for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award, given to the nation’s top college baseball player.
The accomplished thrower has a three-pitch arsenal, which includes a 90-mph to-94-mph fastball, along with a curveball and changeup — which some draft experts say projects him as an end-of-the-rotation starter at the next level.
As a high school senior, German earned 3A All-State honors and helped guide Bishop McLaughlin to the State Final Four.
Jake Sims, right-handed pitcher/first baseman (San Diego Padres—31st round, 921st overall)
Hometown: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
College: Saint Leo University
Sims proved himself a capable two-way player for Saint Leo in his first and only season with the club, coming from Roane State Community College in Tennessee.
At the plate for the Lions, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Sims, who bats left-handed and throws right, hit .250 with 17 hits, nine runs scored, four doubles and four home runs. He also drove in 13 runs while finishing the 2018 season with a .485 slugging percentage and .354 on-base percentage.
Meanwhile on the mound, Sims held a 2.35 ERA in six appearances with 10 strikeouts and just four hits allowed. He allowed just two runs in his 7.2 innings of work.
Sims is the second Saint Leo player to be drafted by the Padres, joining Darrin Reichie, a fourth-round selection in 1987.
Zach Scott, second baseman (Seattle Mariners—32nd round, 958th overall)
Hometown: Scottsdale, Arizona
College: Saint Leo University
The 6-foot, 185-pound Scott was a mainstay at second the past two seasons for Saint Leo after transferring from Colorado Christian University.
He wrapped up the 2018 campaign with a .312/.570/.385 slash line, recording 58 hits on the year with 12 doubles, six triples and eight home runs, while scoring 45 runs and driving in 42 RBI in all 49 games.
Defensively, Scott posted a .947 fielding percentage with 85 putouts and 131 assists while turning 27 double plays.
He’s now one of three former Lions to get drafted by the Mariners, joining Daniel Torres (2013) and Taylor Perez (2015), all infielders.
Austin Drury, left-handed pitcher (Los Angeles Dodgers- 34th round, 1034th overall)
Hometown: Land O’ Lakes/Wiregrass Ranch High School
College: University of North Florida
A former A-SUN All-Freshman and Freshman All-American, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound lefty had a slightly down showing in 2018, finishing with a 4-4 record in 13 starts with a 4.85 ERA, recording 58 strikeouts in 68.2 innings of work and holding opponent’s to a .258 batting average.
Yet, his past success and potential as a southpaw is likely what intrigued pro scouts to call his name late in the draft.
In 2017, as a sophomore, Drury went 6-2 with a 2.43 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 74.1 innings, holding opponents to a .231 batting average.
Should Drury sign with the Dodgers, he’ll achieve a rare designation as a third-generation professional baseball player. His uncle, Ronald Kelly, and grandfather, Roy Kelly, both played in the minors.
Prior to college, Drury was a four-year member of the Wiregrass Ranch High School baseball team. His senior year he earned First-Team All-Pasco honors as the Bulls’ top batter (.380) and pitcher (1.83 earned run average).
He was also teammates with his older brother, Zach, at both Wiregrass Ranch and North Florida.
Published June 20, 2018