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Junior left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk had the opportunity to become the first No. 1 overall draft pick in Florida Gators major sports history. Instead, Puk took a tad of a tumble on the first night of the 2016 MLB Draft but still led a strong group of selections from the Gators.
Puk was selected with the No. 6 overall pick by the Oakland Athletics on Thursday, marking the second straight year a Florida player was drafted by Oakland in the first round.
As it turned out, he would not be the only Gators player to head to the A’s as junior right-handed pitcher Logan Shore was chosen a few dozen picks later at No. 47 overall.
Shore, Florida’s Friday starter for the last three years, has posted an 11-0 record and 2.44 ERA this season with 80 strikeouts and 25 earned runs in 92.1 innings, whereas Puk (2-3 in 15 starts) has a 3.21 ERA with 95 strikeouts and 25 earned runs in 70.0 innings. The difference in scouts’ eyes? Puk’s cannon arm, which many believe can be refined to turn him into a top-tier MLB starter.
Between Puk and Shore, junior RHP Dane Dunning was chosen No. 29 overall in the first round by the Washington Nationals. Dunning (5-3, 2.50 ERA) has starter potential but spent most of the season in the bullpen with 164 strikeouts in 152.2 career innings.
It is the first time since 2012 (Mike Zunino, Brian Johnson) and just the fourth time in school history that Florida’s had two players selected in the first round.
Two more Gators were selected before Thursday night was out with junior outfielder Buddy Reed going to the San Diego Padres one spot after Shore at No. 48 overall and junior first baseman Peter Alonso getting chosen by the New York Mets with the No. 64 overall pick.
Reed brings speed and defense to the table for San Diego, while Alonso is a masher at the plate, serving as Florida’s triple crown leader this season (.368, 12 HR, 55 RBI).
The MLB Draft continues on Friday (beginning at 1 p.m.) with Rounds 3-10 and concludes Saturday (beginning at 12 p.m. with Rounds 11-40).
Most of the Florida players eligible to be drafted will be selected at some point over the next two days. OnlyGators.com will break it all down afterward.