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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Seven Gators come off the board on day two of MLB Draft

Florida Gators are tied with Texas Tech for most players drafted

Jud Fabian was the first Gator off the board in the MLB Draft Monday.
Jud Fabian was the first Gator off the board in the MLB Draft Monday.

In a matter of 24 hours, the Florida Gators went from having zero players selected in the 2021 MLB Draft to more than almost every other team in the country.

Teams such as the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals drafted seven total Florida ballplayers on day two of the draft Monday. 

OF Jud Fabian, 40th pick, Boston Red Sox

Fabian entered the draft as MLB.com’s 23rd ranked prospect. The Ocala native found a new home at the legendary Fenway Park after the Boston Red Sox selected the former Gator 40th overall.

"I have been dreaming of this day ever since I was a kid, and I could not be more excited to be drafted by the Boston Red Sox organization," Fabian said. "I look forward to the next chapter and will push myself to continue to develop both on and off the field."

The selection made Fabian the second-highest drafted outfielders in Florida history trailing only Brad Wilkerson, who was selected 33rd overall by the Montreal Expos in 1998. Fabian is the 18th-highest draft pick in UF history.

The third-team All-American finished his collegiate career with a .249 batting average, 85 RBIs and posted a .984 fielding percentage on the defensive side of the ball. 

In 2021, Fabian smashed 20 home runs, becoming the fifth Gator to reach the mark in a single season. The right-handed slugger finished the year with the ninth-most home runs in the country and second-most in the SEC.

RHP Tommy Mace, 69th pick, Cleveland Indians

The second Florida Gator selected was right-handed hurler Tommy Mace.. Mace had been drafted once before already, the first time coming in 2017 when the Cincinnati Reds selected Mace out of Sunlake High School in the 12th round.

Mace slots in as the 26th-highest pick in Florida baseball history and the 14th-highest selected Gator pitcher. 

Despite a rough ending in the NCAA Regional, Mace managed to put up positive numbers and increase his draft stock in 2021. The junior pitched 90.1 innings and finished the year with 113 strikeouts, the eighth-most in the SEC. He finished the year with a  4.38 ERA and held opponents to only a .256 batting average.

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Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan has now produced 53 MLB pitching draftees including Mace, who became the 17th pitcher taken in the first five rounds since O’Sullivan took over in 2008.

Catcher Nathan Hickey, 136th pick, Boston Red Sox

Hickey ships up to Boston and reunites with second-round pick Jud Fabian as the Red Sox selected the catcher in the fifth round.

Baseball America referred to Hickey as the “best hitter on a strong Gators team” and for good reason. The catcher led the Gators in batting average (.317) and RBIs (50) in 2021 and recorded nine home runs, tied for second-most on the team.

The Green Monster shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for the Duval County native’s hot bat. Hickey held a .522 slugging percentage last season, the third-highest on the Gators.

Hickey became the fourth-highest drafted catcher in UF history Monday. He trailed Mike Zunino, who was selected third overall by the Seattle Mariners in 2012, and Taylor Gushue, who went at the 131st spot in 2014.

RHP Christian Scott, 142nd pick, New York Mets

Relief pitcher Christian Scott packs his bags for the Big Apple to join fellow UF alumnus Pete “Polar Bear” Alonso on the Mets, who selected the right-hander in the fifth round.

Scott led the Gators in bullpen appearances with 26 in 2021, and he mustered a 4-2 record with two saves earned on the side. The Parkland, Florida, native put together a 3.00 ERA across 54 innings pitched and tossed seven strikeouts in a five-inning performance against Ole Miss on April 2.

The New York Mets welcome the reliever to assist a pitching club including two-time Cy Young champion Jacob DeGrom and his 1.08 ERA and 146 strikeouts. 

OF Jacob Young, 203rd pick, Washington Nationals

Left fielder Jacob Young heads to the nation’s capital after the Nationals selected him in the seventh round. 

Young’s consistent swing boosted him to the top of Florida statistical leaderboards in 2021. The right-handed batter led the Gators in hits (80), doubles (16), runs (56) and stolen bases (13). 

The sophomore compiled a .315 batting average, a .385 on-base percentage and knocked five home runs to bolster a .461 slugging percentage.

Young used his strong arm to lead the UF outfield with seven assists on the defensive side of the ball.

RHP Jack Leftwich, 216th pick, Cleveland Indians

Leftwich became the second of three Gators drafted by Cleveland Monday after the Indians selected him in the seventh round. 

This is the second time the right-handed pitcher has been drafted after the Detroit Tigers took the Orlando native out of high school in 2017’s 39th round.

Overall, Leftwich stood on the mound through 235.1 innings and ended his college career with a 4.25 ERA, 20-14 overall record and 247 strikeouts thrown. Leftwich was named to the NCAA Lubbock All-Regional Team in 2019.

RHP Franco Aleman, 306th pick, Cleveland Indians

Right-handed pitcher Franco Aleman rounded out the day for the Gators, becoming the seventh Florida draftee of the afternoon when Cleveland selected him in the tenth round. The ace joins teammates Mace and Leftwich in the Indians bullpen.

Aleman only spent one year with the Gators. The right-hander spent his first two seasons at Florida International in 2019 before he threw for St. Johns River College in 2020. 

Aleman made 23 appearances on the hill under O’Sullivan, including nine starts. He compiled a 2-4 record, four saves, a 5.74 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 69 innings of work.

The 2021 MLB Draft resumes Tuesday at noon.

Contact Jesse Richardson at jrichardson@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352.

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