The final day of the MLB Draft had a few surprises, and the Boston Red Sox’s selection of Gators starting quarterback Jeff Driskel was one of them.
The Red Sox picked Driskel 863rd overall in the 29th round as an outfielder Saturday in the MLB First-Year Player Draft – a move that shocked many, including Driskel.
“Got drafted by the Red Sox today. Did not see that coming,” Driskel posted on his Twitter account (@jeffdriskel) following the selection.
The 6-foot-4 rising junior has not played baseball since his days at Hagerty High in Oviedo, where he was a two-sport athlete.
The next day on Twitter, Driskel made it clear that he has no plans of leaving UF.
“@jeffdriskel You gonna join us?! #RedSox,” former Gators and current Red Sox pitcher Brian Johnson (@Brian_Johnson35) posted.
Replied Driskel: “no sir lol.”
Driskel’s decision to stay with the Gators was not a shock to his former baseball coaches at Hagerty.
“He is not the kind of person to change directions until he has completely fulfilled his current duty,” said Derek Griffith, Hagerty assistant athletic director and pitching coach.
Driskel was an elite prospect at center fielder on Hagerty’s baseball squad, where he showcased his speed and arm strength. Some MLB scouts projected him to be a top-100 pick in the 2011 draft.
But Driskel enrolled at Florida in the spring of 2011 to get a head start with the football program, forgoing his final semester of high school and repelling teams from drafting him.
“Choosing to go early was probably his best option so that he could get acquainted with the offense and gets a head start on all the other opponents,” said Dylan Ortega, Driskel’s former high school baseball teammate.
“Based off talent, I thought he could play [baseball] at a top-level program. I think he would’ve been a first- or second-round pick.”
But Driskel always had a greater passion for football.
Hagerty baseball coach Jered Goodwin said he has always supported his former player because he believes Driskel’s decisions have been well thought out.
“He told me his junior year that he wanted to leave high school early because he wanted to be the Gators’ QB,” Goodwin said. “That’s all I needed to hear to know he made the right decision. We still talk weekly and see each other a lot and there are no regrets. He for sure made the right decision.”