MLB Draft | South Florida Athletes

UM players have lengthy wait to hear names called


A handful of UM baseball players were finally drafted, with the first Eric Nedeljkovic, who was selected in the 21st round.

Special to The Miami Herald

It took 619 picks before a University of Miami player was selected in this year’s MLB draft, the longest wait for a Hurricane to get picked since 2003.

Senior closer Eric Nedeljkovic, who led the Atlantic Coast Conference with 13 saves and had a 1.37 ERA, was picked by the Rockies in Saturday’s 21st round.

In contrast, from 2004 to 2012, the Canes never had to wait longer than the sixth round before one of their players was picked. The Canes had six first-rounders in that span — Yasmani Grandal, Yonder Alonso, Jemile Weeks, Carlos Gutierrez, Ryan Braun and Cesar Carrillo.

After Nedeljkovic, senior outfielder Chantz Mack (Mariners) and junior left-hander Bryan Radziewski (Cardinals) were picked in the 29th round. Junior right-hander Javi Salas (Twins) went in the 38th round.

The Reds drafted the Canes’ top two local recruits — Mater Academy outfielder Willie Abreu (14th round) and American Heritage catcher Zach Collins (27th round).

Collins said a couple of teams called looking to draft him in the second and third rounds.

“We had to turn it down because things weren’t right with the money [being offered],” Collins said. “But I’m not disappointed at all. I’m going to UM, and it will work out fine.”

Abreu did not return phone calls, but his coach, Eddie Gorriz, said the Rangers called the prospect in the third round, offering $334,000.

“He turned it down because his minimum to sign was $450,000,” Gorriz said. “Now the Reds are offering $450,000, so he has a decision to make.”

Two more Canes recruits, Colorado right-hander Derik Beauprez (Red Sox, 25th) and Georgia outfielder Jacob Heyward (Braves, 38th) were drafted in late rounds. The latter’s brother is Braves All-Star Jason Heyward.

In other local draft news:

• The Red Sox drafted Nova Southeastern infielder Carlos Asuaje in the 11th round. The junior can play shortstop or second base.

• In the 14th round, LaSalle’s Elier Rodriguez, a first-team All-Dade catcher in Class 4A-2A and a Barry University signee, was drafted by the Cardinals. He hit .489 with 5 homers and 29 RBI this past season. At pick No. 425, he became the first Dade high school player selected this year, 10 spots ahead of Abreu.

• Barry University’s Tyler Kinley, a 6-4, 205-pound right-hander, was taken by the Marlins in the 16th round. The junior had a 5.24 ERA, starting seven out of his 16 games.

• Miami Dade College had two players selected in the 17th round: right-handed pitcher Kevin Perez (Royals) and shortstop Steven Negron (Tigers). MDC catcher Daniel de la Calle was taken in the 33rd round by the Rangers. In total, five MDC players were drafted this weekend.

• In the 26th round, the Cubs took Southwest catcher Carlos Pena. Teammate Luis Aviles, a shortstop, was taken in the 30th round (Brewers).

• St. Thomas University right-hander Ricky Claudio, who also plays outfield, was selected in the 27th round (Mariners). He had a .375 batting average last season. As a pitcher, he struck out 29 in 20 innings but had a 5.75 ERA.

• Left-hander Tyler Alexander (Brewers) was the only FIU player selected this year. He went in the 27th round after leading FIU in strikeouts (101 in 90 innings) and posting a 4.28 ERA.

• Mater Academy catcher and FIU signee Juan Escara (Mets, 32nd) and Southridge right-hander Osvaldo Garcia (Giants, 38th) were taken in the late rounds.

• Among the local players selected in the late rounds: Broward College outfielder Vaughn Bryan (Cardinals, 35th round); Hialeah High left-hander Nestor Cortes (Yankees, 36th round); St. Thomas Aquinas left-hander Alec Byrd (Reds, 37th round).

• American Heritage pitcher Shaun Anderson was the last player picked in the draft — selection No. 1,216. Anderson, picked by the Nationals, and has a scholarship to the University of Florida.

Read more State Colleges stories from the Miami Herald

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