The 2019 MLB draft has come to a close and five Panthers will have a chance to make it to the big league.
While the Panthers season was disappointing, posting a 23-32 record, the team had talent from top to bottom.
“I’m very happy for them,” said head coach Mervyl Melendez. “They have worked very hard to get to this point and I’m sure they will work harder than ever now to keep climbing.”
FIU’s starting third baseman Austin Shenton was selected 156th overall in the 5th round by the Seattle Mariners. That makes him the highest drafted baseball player since Aramis Garcia was drafted 52nd overall by the San Francisco Giants back in 2014.
“Austin has overcome many obstacles this year and to have done as well as he did, it’s extremely gratifying,” said Coach Melendez.
Shenton was the most consistent hitter for the Panthers last season. Batting a team-high average of .330, Shenton launched seven home runs and a team-high 47 RBI. Shenton chose to supersede his Senior year with the hope of making it at the professional level and with his level of offensive ability the Mariners may have their next third baseman.
Infielder Javier Valdes was the second Panther taken off the board with the 637th overall pick in the 21st round by the Atlanta Braves. Valdes is a versatile infielder having spent time at first base and catcher last season. Valdes put his power hitting on display by batting .255 with eight home runs and 30 RBI.
“I believe his versatility will serve him well as a professional,” said Coach Melendez.
The first Panther’s pitcher to be drafted was Nick MacDonald with the 688th overall pick in the 23rd round to the New York Mets. MacDonald posted a career-best 3.93 era last season, in 76 innings with an overall record of 4-5.
“Nick has the ability to throw 3 pitches for strikes and his ability to control the strike zone is what made him the pitcher he was at FIU,” said Coach Melendez.
The Panther’s struggled with experience this season, having only one senior on the roster. That senior, Lorenzo Hampton Jr. will continue his baseball career in his hometown, Miami.
Hampton Jr. was drafted by the Marlins with the 831st pick in the 28th round. Hampton Jr. batted .255 on the season along with 5 home runs and 21 RBI. His final at-bat as a Panther was a walk-off home run against Louisiana Tech.
The final Panther drafted has a story of perseverance. Pitcher Tyler Myrick sat out all of last season after undergoing Tommy Johns surgery on his shoulder.
Myrick was drafted by the Texas Rangers with the 1,195th pick in the 40th round. The Rangers liked what they saw in Myrick’s sophomore year. He had a 2-2 record with a 3.86 ERA.
While he may have been drafted, Myrick will likely see himself returning to FIU for his senior season after his surgery.
“He will most likely come back next year and pitch for us,” said Coach Melendez.
Most of the players will spend a few seasons in farm systems for their teams sharpen their skills in hopes of making it to the big stage.