The Florida Gators had six of their baseball selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft held over the weekend.
|Taylor Gushue (C)||Pittsburgh Pirates (4th)|
|Justin Shafer (RHP)||Toronto Blue Jays (8th)|
|Karsten Whitson (RHP)||Boston Red Sox (11th)|
|Casey Turgeon (2B)||St. Louis Cardinals (24th)|
|Ryan Harris (RHP)||Boston Red Sox (26th)|
|Keenan Kish (RHP)||Cincinnati Reds (34th)|
Taylor Gushue was the first Florida player selected in the draft. He was taken in the fourth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 131st overall pick. Gushue, a junior catcher, was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-SEC selection in 2014. He hit .320 in 62 games for the Gators while racking up 49 RBI, 16 doubles, and six home runs. Gushue took over for Mike Zunino after he was drafted third overall in the 2012 MLB draft by the Seattle Mariners. The Pirates will likely sign Gushue soon, ending his collegiate eligibility and tenure as a Gator.
Shafer was a junior pitcher who appeared in 18 games and tossed 36.2 innings for the Gators this season. He recorded a 4.17 ERA and had a 1-0 record while starting two games. Shafer tallied 27 strikeouts to just seven walks and was a key piece in the Florida bullpen for head coach Kevin O’Sullivan. The Toronto Blue Jays have already signed Shafer to a contract and he will be joining one of the professional farm teams shortly.
The Boston Red Sox selected Karsten Whitson, a redshirt junior, with the 344th overall pick. Whitson was the number nine overall pick back in 2010 by the San Diego Padres, but he opted to keep his commitment to the Gators and went to college instead. The Washington Nationals selected him in the 37th round of the 2013 draft last year, but Whitson again decided to stay at Florida for his redshirt junior season. Whitson started nine games for Florida this season, compiling a 1-1 record with a 3.86 ERA. He had 21 strikeouts and 23 walks in 37.1 innings of work. He may come back for his senior season, but after passing up contracts twice already, it may be unlikely Whitson will do so for a third time.
Casey Turgeon was chosen with the 735th overall pick by the St. Louis Cardinals. He batted .255 in 62 games, starting 61 of them. Turgeon recorded 11 doubles and four home runs alongside his 32 RBI for the Gators. He is a junior and has one year left of eligibility. This is the second time Turgeon has been chosen in the MLB draft; he was picked in the 22nd round of the 2011 draft by the New York Mets out of high school.
Boston chose another Gator with the 794th overall pick in Ryan Harris. Harris, a junior, was picked in the 37th round of the 2011 draft by the New York Yankees as well. He appeared in 27 games with one start this season and had a 3-2 record and 3.00 ERA. Harris recorded 19 strikeouts and 12 walks for the Gators and will have to decide on his future for next season. He has a year left for Florida, but may sign a professional contract. Boston would add him to former Florida pitchers Brian Johnson and Austin Maddox in their farm system. Harris led the Gators with five saves this season and limited opposing hitters to a .230 batting average.
The final pick off the Florida roster was redshirt junior Keenan Kish. Kish did not play in 2014 due to injury but was chosen by the Reds with the 1,025th overall pick. He has a 1.72 career ERA at Florida in 28 appearances and 47.0 innings on the mound. Kish would be a welcome addition back in the bullpen next season, but we will have to wait and see what he decides to do with a possible professional career on the horizon.