Nick Gordon squared up nearly every pitch he swung at in April and May as his memorable four-year varsity career at Olympia High came to a close. And it was easy to marvel at his improved range and stunning arm strength while playing in the field at shortstop.
This Thursday, June 5, the rest of the baseball world will be introduced to the well-liked Gordon when the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft gets underway in Secaucus, N.J. Live coverage (Round 1-Comp B) begins on MLB Network and MLB.com at 7 p.m.
Gordon is one of seven amateur players scheduled to attend the Draft. That list also includes high school shortstops Michael Chavis and Jacob Gatewood, high school outfielders Monte Harrison and Derek Hill and high school pitchers Grant Holmes and Kodi Medeiros.
The Houston Astros have the No. 1 overall selection for the third consecutive year and the consensus top prospects are (in no particular order) Gordon, left-handers Brady Aiken of Cathedral Catholic High in San Diego, Calif., and Carlos Rodon of North Carolina State, right-hander Tyler Kolek of Shepherd High in Texas, and catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson of Rancho Bernardo High in San Diego.
According to a story published Monday on MLB.com, the Astros are considering all of them. An MLB.com mock draft on Monday had Gordon going to the Minnesota Twins with the No. 5 selection, although the signability of top targets typically factors into the first-round process.
Gordon, the son of former Major League pitcher Tom Gordon and younger brother of Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Dee Gordon, signed with Florida State University last fall. He was named the Gatorade Florida Baseball Player of the Year in 2013 in addition to receiving the Jackie Robinson Award presented by Perfect Game.
The signing deadline for players selected in the First-Year Player Draft is July 18.
The 2014 MLB Draft continues this Friday, June 6 (Rounds 3-10) and Saturday, June 7 (Rounds 11-40) on MLB.com starting at 1 p.m. both days.
The basic categories of players eligible to be drafted are high school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college; college players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old; and junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed.
That pool alone generates a wealth of pro prospects with ties to West Orange County – and this year will be no different.
West Orange High senior right-hander Andrew Karp was rated as the No. 187 prospect overall on MLB.com. Karp is committed to Florida State.
Ole Miss draft-eligible outfielder Auston Bousfield (West Orange High) has put together a terrific junior season for the Rebels.
The 2014 C Spire Ferriss Trophy winner – the award is presented annually to the top collegiate baseball player in the state of Mississippi - hit his sixth home run of the season on Sunday in the Rebels’ 2-1 win over Washington at the NCAA Oxford Regional. (Ole Miss is in the Super Regionals for the fifth time in its last nine NCAA Tournament appearances.)
The 2014 MLB Draft will also attract the attention of players who have committed to play this summer in the Florida Collegiate Summer League. Several players on the Winter Garden Squeeze’s first-year roster are draft eligible.
Squeeze right-handed pitcher Chris Fee said the “level of baseball in this community has always been high.” Fee recently completed a successful junior season at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, N.C.
“I’ve played ball all over and I could definitely say that where I grew up in Florida – in this particular area with Windermere, Winter Garden and MetroWest – is baseball crazy. Every year it seems like you hear about 10 guys from just this local area that get drafted.”
“The high school talent that comes out of this area – as you’ll see in the Draft coming later this week – has historically been great,” Squeeze GM Adam Bates said. “We have some of the premier high schools and this is a very strong high school [baseball] district when you go up into Apopka and down into southwest Orange County and into Lake County and into downtown Orlando.”
The 2012 MLB Draft set an exceedingly high mark when Jesse Winker (Cincinnati), Walker Weickel (San Diego) and Connor Lien (Atlanta) were selected out of Olympia High School. Another former Titan, Jabari Henry, went in the 18th round to Seattle.
That same year, former West Orange High and University of Florida standout Nolan Fontana went to Houston in the second round (61st overall). Left-handed pitcher Anthony Seise was also selected out of West Orange High in Round 20 by Colorado.
In 2011, shortstop Brad Miller (who played at Olympia High and Clemson University) went in the second round (62nd overall) to Seattle. Miller is currently in his second Major League season with the Mariners.
Jake Sidwell (Olympia) was selected by the Dodgers in the 39th round in 2013. Sidwell, a catcher, became the first MLB-drafted player to attend Davidson College, where he played his freshman season this spring.