Baseball

Five FIU players selected in MLB Draft. Plus a recap of all South Florida players picked

Florida International University catcher Jose Garcia (27) celebrates at home plate with his teammates Austin Shenton (6) and Javier Valdes (16) after hitting his ninth homer of the season during the first inning of a baseball game against University of Miami at Alex Rodriguez Park in Coral Gables, Florida, on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Shenton and Valdes were both selected in this week’s MLB Draft.
Florida International University catcher Jose Garcia (27) celebrates at home plate with his teammates Austin Shenton (6) and Javier Valdes (16) after hitting his ninth homer of the season during the first inning of a baseball game against University of Miami at Alex Rodriguez Park in Coral Gables, Florida, on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Shenton and Valdes were both selected in this week’s MLB Draft. dvarela@miamiherald.com

FIU had five players selected in this week’s MLB Draft, which concluded Wednesday.

The selections were: third baseman Austin Shenton (fourth round, Mariners); catcher Javier Valdes (21st round, Braves); right-hander Nick MacDonald (23rd round, Mets); outfielder Lorenzo Hampton (28th round, Marlins); and right-hander Tyler Myrick (40, Rangers).

Shenton, whose mother (Andrea) is battling breast cancer in Washington, was overjoyed to get picked by Seattle.

“I’ve been a Mariners fan my whole life,” Shenton said. “It’s crazy being drafted by my hometown team.”

The first four FIU players are expected to turn pro, including Hampton, a senior whose last at-bat as a collegian was a walk-off home run in the Panthers’ final game of the season.

However, Myrick, who sat out this season due to an arm injury, is expected to return to FIU. Panthers coach Mervyl Melendez said Myrick’s rehab has gone “phenomenally” well, allowing him to be ready to pitch by this fall.

Valdes’ expected departure could open up more playing time at catcher for Jose Garcia, who has hit 24 homers in his first two years at FIU.

Beyond the voluminous list of players drafted – more than 1,200 selections were made in three days – there were some behind-the scenes stories. For example:

Pembroke Pines Charter catcher Maxwell Romero, ranked the No. 234 prospect in the nation, got a call from the Reds in the second round. But when the two sides couldn’t agree on a signing bonus, Romero went undrafted until the 38th round (Reds) and will continue with his plan to attend Vanderbilt.

Yordys Valdes, a switch-hitting and slick fielding shortstop from Hollywood McArthur who was drafted in the second round by the Indians, is expected to go pro. Valdes had committed to Florida State and had told MLB teams he would have played for the Seminoles if drafted lower than round two.

Interestingly, four of the Indians’ top 12 picks were high school players from Florida, including three from Dade/Broward.

Here’s a look at more draftees from Dade and Broward schools, with round and team in parenthesis:

LOCAL HIGH SCHOOLS

Including Valdes and Romero, there were 13 players drafted straight out of Broward or Miami-Dade high schools: Calvary Christian shortstop Christian Cairo (4, round, Indians); Miami Christian right-hander Allan Hernandez (12, Indians); North Broward Prep right-hander Anthony Tomczak (15, Mariners); North Broward Prep center fielder Matthew Corlew (23, Angels); Stoneman Douglas right-hander Luke Schiltz (24, Rangers); Miami Springs shortstop Anthony Nunez (29, Padres); South Miami third baseman Yassel Pino (29, Reds); Calvary Christian pitcher Braden Halladay (32, Blue Jays); Stoneman Douglas third baseman Hunter Fitz-Gerald (33, Rockies); Hialeah center fielder Andy Martin (36, Royals); and Miami Killian catcher Jorge Corona (39, Royals).

MIAMI DADE COLLEGE

MDC had three players drafted this year, including two on Wednesday: right-handers Orlando Ribalta (12, Nationals); and Blake Baker (25, Padres).

“Orlando Ribalta has pro baseball stamped on his forehead,” MDC coach Danny Price said. “He is 6-7, 245 pounds and throws 97 mph.”

NOVA SOUTHEASTERN

Two NSU seniors were drafted: catcher Garrett Wolforth (14, round, Reds) and right-hander Brock Minich (27, round, Mariners).

ST. THOMAS UNIVERSITY

Five days after finishing second in the nation in the NAIA World Series, Bobcats senior second baseman Jackie Urbaez was drafted in the 29th round by the Brewers.

ASA MIAMI

Pitcher Jose Ulloa was picked in the 24th round by the Phillies.

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