The Tampa Bay Rays have selected a USF pitcher in the MLB First Year Draft for the second year in a row. Senior right-hander Phoenix Sanders was chosen by the Rays in the tenth round (289th overall).
The Rays selected former Bulls’ starting pitcher Brandon Lawson last year in the 14th round. They also selected 2B Jonathan Koscso in the 29th round of the 2009 draft and SS Kyle Teaf in the 13th round of the 2015 draft, although Teaf did not sign.
The draft slot value for the 289th pick is $136,400.
Sanders improved in almost every facet of the game this past season, lowering his ERA from 4.15 in 2016 to 2.78 in 2017. He also led the team in innings pitched (97) and strikeouts (109).
When injuries struck the USF roster last season, Sanders stepped up to become the Friday night starter, pitching more than head coach Mark Kingston may have wanted without a complaint. When things were going bad down the stretch and Kingston switched up his rotation at the conference tournament, Phoenix earned his first career save by shutting down East Carolina in the ninth inning.
Sanders was the steady force in the rotation in 2017, backstopping Shane McClanahan and Peter Strzlecki as they made their USF debuts following Tommy John surgery. He added eight pounds of muscle in the offseason and it proved effective.His fastball velocity saw a nice spike to the low-90s, with his breaking ball pitches as devastating as ever.
In his last collegiate start, he tossed seven shutout innings against Bethune-Cookman in the first game of the Gainesville Regional.
It will be very difficult for the Bulls to replace his leadership and demeanor on the mound next year.
Good luck with the Rays.
Future Bull Drafted
JUCO RHP Jackson Tetreault and USF commit from the State College of Florida in Bradenton was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the seventh round (223rd overall). That draft slot carries a $178,100 price tag. It was unlikely Tetreault would reach campus, but it’s a tough blow nonetheless. The lanky righty’s fastball hit 95 on the radar gun this spring.