The MLB draft has come and gone. Unlike their much shorter counterparts in the NBA, NHL and NFL, the Major League's draft goes on for 40 rounds and over 1,200 players are selected. If that sounds mind-numbing it's because it is.
That's why it's not a major TV draw. NFL fans' eyes begin to glaze over after the third round, I'm still not convinced anyone south of the US/Canadian border watches the hockey draft and basketball's two rounds seems light but even that gets dull before they can get to the final pick.
The MLB draft is on TV, sure. Now that the league has it's own cable channel they televise part of it. Part. Even they don't think anyone would actually want to sit through that. They showed the first 73 picks this year (two regular rounds and two supplemental ones).
I'll give you that first round as a mulligan for indulging your curiosity, I'll even toss in the supplemental one for the sake of courtesy. But let's be honest, if that was appointment viewing for you and you're no relation to someone hoping to get picked, it may be time to step back, take a look at your life and then reassess some things.
All kidding aside though, while the MLB Draft doesn't have the same glitz and TV production of the other three, that doesn't make getting the call any less significant for those lucky enough to receive it. By the time the draft concluded yesterday five Florida State Seminoles had received calls from major league teams.
Now four of them have decisions to make.
Stephen McGee was the highest drafted player at Florida State this year. He was the 277th overall selection and went in the 9th round to the Angels where someday he may once again play with Sherman Johnson, who was picked by the Angels last year in round 14.
“I am just ecstatic," said McGee. "I can’t really explain it. This is the first time that I have been drafted. It’s awesome; it’s a dream come true.”
The first chance for a guy to be drafted by the major leagues is at the end of his senior year in high school. If he doesn't sign, depending on where he goes to play next he can either be eligible year to year at a community college or after his junior year (or when he turns 21) at a four-year college or university.
Some players get drafted as many as three or four times. Others have to work their tail off just to get picked once. A perfect example of that played out last year in the 2012 draft when two completely opposite ends of that spectrum were picked within about an hour of one another.
Sherman Johnson finally got drafted after putting in four years of hard work at Florida State and improving his stock enough to make it into the 14th round as a senior. He was thrilled to go at that pick. About an hour later in the next round the Texas Rangers selected an 18 year-old from Alabama named Jameis Winston who had the luxury of not even considering an offer unless he was taken in the first four or five rounds.
Winston could probably quit baseball after this season and still get picked again in a couple of years just because someone will be willing to take a flyer on him for his athleticism.
But they don't make many like Jameis. It doesn't come that naturally to most and the draft is the culmination of a lot of hard work to even make it that far.
I'm a little surprised McGee hadn't made it that far already. He had a solid season as a redshirt sophomore in 2012, but it wouldn't necessarily stick out at you on a stat sheet if you didn't watch him play. Thing is, a lot of scouts did watch him play. FSU had seven players drafted off last season's team, Major League scouts spent plenty of time watching the Seminoles. The fact nobody wanted to take a shot on him in the later rounds is a little surprising.
McGee made sure he passed the paper test this year though, improving his average by 64 points to .294, hitting nine home runs, driving in 51 runs and posting a .458 OBP. Coupled with his leadership and his typically steady defensive play, it wasn't a matter of 'if' but rather 'when' for McGee this year.
Of the seven players drafted off last year's team, six signed. That seventh player though, he could be why the four juniors weighing decisions about turning pro after this year's draft could feel compelled to make the leap.
McGee and Peter Miller played with Justin Gonzalez last season, Marcus Davis and Robby Coles were new this Fall but got to know Gonzalez and shared the field with him briefly at the start of the season.
After getting picked in the 27th round by the Dodgers last year, Gonzalez decided to come back to Florida State for his senior year hoping to improve his draft stock and win one for #11. He got hurt in the fifth game and missed the rest of the season after hip surgery.
He was not drafted this time around.
In some ways he became the Spring's Brandon Jenkins. Which is to say, he became the cautionary tale about not taking opportunities for granted. Watching Jenkins drop from a hot prospect in the NFL draft class as a junior to the end of the 5th round as a senior was admittedly a factor in Bjoern Werner's decision to forgo his final year and go pro early.
Gonzalez's injury could work in a similar way, only at the other end of the draft. Rather than watching a guy slide from the upper portion of the class to a late pick, Gonzalez's teammates saw a late-round pick come back and potentially lose his shot at the Majors completely. It's a message that could resonate with all four of the juniors who will be making that same decision in the coming weeks.
Peter Miller was picked in the 16th round (484) by the Dodgers.
“It’s exciting [to be drafted]. It’s been a long journey," said Miller. "I am definitely excited but I’m just trying to focus on finishing this year off first before I even worry about the draft. It was just a complete surprise to be selected by the Dodgers.”
Marcus Davis was equally happy just to have been picked when he went eight rounds later in the 24th round (718) to the Padres: “I was happy to see my name come across the screen. I’m grateful for the opportunity. I just want to thank the Padres for giving me this opportunity, so we will see what happens. But there is still some work to be done in Tallahassee.”
Robby Coles was taken 836th by the Mets, that's in the 28th round. Like Davis, McGee and Miller, he was just thrilled somebody finally took him.
“I am just happy to have this opportunity. I’ve been in contact with the organization so it wasn’t a surprise that they picked me," said Coles. "To be honest, I was more surprised just to be drafted [at all] because it is such a big thing.”
While it's easy for fans to point out that a couple of those guys could improve their draft stock by returning for another season in Garnet and Gold, having watched Justin Gonzalez go from a player with a Major League offer to a guy without one might be tough to shake.
Seeing all of that play out up close could affect the decisions of all four juniors and remind them not to gamble given just how quickly you can fall off the radar. While you could come back for one last run at glory to try and help Mike Martin hoist his first title (provided they don't check that off the list this year), you've got just as good a chance to get hurt and miss getting drafted completely.
It's a big chance to take.
Scott Sitz won't be stuck deciding between FSU and the pros, he was one of only three seniors on the team (along with Gonzalez and Seth Miller). He was also the only senior to be drafted. Sitz was picked by the Detroit Tigers in the 28th round with the 846th overall pick after going 10-1 with a 1.59 ERA for Florida State this year.
“I actually didn’t see my name pop-up [because] I was in the shower after today’s game. Hunter Scantling was actually back in Tallahassee for today’s game and he was the one who told me Detroit drafted me," said Sitz. "This is something that I have worked my whole life for. I’ve never been drafted before so I am really excited about it."
FSU's incoming freshman class at the start of the year had more draft selections under their belts than the five players that were drafted out of Florida State over the past three days did. Winston, John Sansone and DJ Stewart were all selected in 2012 and chose to go to Florida State rather than sign where they were picked.
None of the five players taken from FSU in this year's 40 round Major League marathon had ever been drafted.
Mike Martin's been doing this long enough to know that the positives that come from putting players into the majors on a regular basis are also accompanied by drawbacks. You lose players early when they get drafted as juniors- that's something FSU deals with regularly.
But at the end of Florida State's season- whether that's today or in a couple weeks- Martin and his coaching staff's attention will immediately turn to another one of the draft's drawbacks: it's impact on recruiting.
The draft takes even the best laid plans of any coach and just wreaks havok on them. Martin and co. will have to just say goodbye to a few recruits and will have to put on the hard-sell to try and persuade other prospects to stick with Florida State.
Incidentally FSU had as many players drafted from its potential 2013 recruiting class as were taken from their nationally seventh-ranked roster. Per PerfectGame.Org's most recent reports, five likely Seminole commitments were drafted, two of them went in the first three rounds.
SS Oscar Mercado was taken 57th overall by the St. Louis Cardinals in the middle of the 2nd round and then Ben Deluzio, a middle infielder who's also the younger brother of former FSU WBB captain Alexa Deluzio, was picked 80th by the Marlins near the top of the third.
MT Minacci, a RHP out of Tallahassee was the Rockies' choice with the third pick of round 20 (589 overall). Taylor Blatch became the 800th selection when Minnesota took him in the 27th round and the Reds took a shot at 6-3 St. Thomas Aquinas LHP Alec Byrd when they grabbed him late with pick 1125 all the way in the 37th round.
That's enough to make a Seminole fan's head spin. Now imagine being a coach or player with life-altering choices and the rollercoaster of emotion that comes with realizing a dream, and then go block that and play a baseball game. Happy Sunday.
Check back for updates from game two of the Super Regional between FSU and Indiana this afternoon.
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(Photo courtesy of Ryan Syrkus)