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Top area prospects in next week’s MLB draft

Bob Putnam

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The Major League Baseball Draft starts Wednesday and ends Thursday. Instead of going 40 rounds, this year’s draft has been reduced to five in a cost-cutting measure.

Each pick in the condensed draft has an assigned value, and teams cannot spend more than what they were allotted in those rounds without incurring a penalty. It becomes more of a salary cap. 

In all, 160 players will be drafted. Those who are not picked are limited to signing bonuses of $20,000 or less. With such a shortened field, the number of Tampa Bay area prospects also is limited. Here are the locals who ranked among Baseball America’s top 250 prospects in the nation, the ones most likely to be selected. 

RHP CJ Van Eyk

High school: Steinbrenner

College: FSU

BA rank: 46

Three years ago, Van Eyk was selected in the 19th round by the New York Mets. He likely would have been taken higher but arm soreness forced him to shut down his senior season at Steinbernner after just 38 innings on the mound. Van Eyk developed into a solid starter at FSU. Last season, he had a 3.81 ERA and averaged more than 11 strikeouts per nine innings. The junior was off to another strong start with a 1.31 ERA to go along with 25 strikeouts and 12 walks in 20.2 innings pitched before the season was canceled.  

Photo credit: Aydan Child/UAA Communications

RHP Tommy Mace

High school: Sunlake

College: Florida

BA rank: 75

Taken in the 12th round by the Cincinnati Reds three years ago, Mace opted to play in college. At Florida, he has gone from a relief role to a starter. This year, the junior had a 1.67 ERA with 26 strikeouts and five walks in 27 innings of work. For the past few months, Mace has been working with teammate Brady Singer, a first-round pick in 2018. Mace also is honing on his analytical skills on the mound with former Bishop McLaughlin standout Nate Pearson, a first-round pick who is now a prospect in the Blue Jays’ organization. 

C Jackson Miller

High school: Mitchell

College: Signed with Wake Forest

BA rank: 99

A four-year starter, Miller improved significantly at the plate. As a senior, he was off to the best start of his high school career with a .500 average and five RBIs in the seven games played before the season was canceled. Miller was part of a stellar Mustangs lineup that helped the team get off to a 7-0 start and finish as the No. 6 team in the country according to MaxPreps’ Xcellent 25. He also was a solid pitcher who went a combined 12-2 the previous two seasons. 

LHP Mason Miller

High school: Mitchell

College: Signed with Florida Gulf Coast

BA rank: 108

Throughout his high school career, Miller never pitched more than 16 innings in a season. Still, he used his breaking ball to strike out batters at an impressive rate. Miller recorded 65 career strikeouts, an average of two per inning. And he won, too. Miller was 4-1 overall, including 2-0 this season. Two years ago, he teamed with Jackson Miller (no relation) to form a solid 1-2 punch on the mound. Jackson played primarily behind the plate this past season.

RHP Carson Ragsdale

High school: Bishop McLaughlin

College: USF

BA rank: 191

In three seasons as Bishop McLaughlin’s ace, Ragsdale went a 19-8 and led the program to the state semifinals in 2014. He was used as a reliever at USF before missing all of last season with Tommy John surgery. This season, Ragsdale returned and impressed scouts with a fastball that clocks around 90-93 mph. In four starts, the junior had a 2.84 ERA and recorded 37 strikeouts with just seven walks in 19 innings. 

C Matheu Nelson

High school: Calvary Christian

College: FSU

BA rank: 249

After a solid high school career, Nelson was selected in the 39th round by the Phillies in 2018. He opted to go to Florida State and made an immediate impact, hitting .282 with six home runs and 29 RBIs as a freshman a year ago. His .442 on-base percentage that year was second on the team behind Drew Mendoza. Nelson is a draft-eligible sophomore according to Baseball America.

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No more fans at Pasco County sporting events after COVID spike

Bob Putnam

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Stock football stadium

Pasco County has decided to limit all athletic activities to students and coaches due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases. 

That means no fans or media members in attendance. 

The new rule starts on Monday and will last until the positivity rate, which has climbed to nine percent, drops to below five percent for a rolling seven-day period. 

In the past two weeks, two county football teams — Wiregrass Ranch and Fivay — had to forfeit playoff games because of a player testing positive for coronavirus and multiple team members and coaches having to quarantine due to contact tracing. 

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Baseball

Signing day roundup

Bob Putnam

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Academy of the Holy Names

Rowing

Grace Cronen: West Virginia

Jessica Reynolds: North Carolina

Softball

INF Rachael Petrarca: Providence

P/INF Belle Sardja: Florida Southwestern

Berkeley Prep

Baseball

P Will Parkinson: Columbia

P Evan Parmer: Virginia Military Institute

Lacrosse

Justyce Barber: William and Mary

Swimming

Amy Wotovich: Harvard

Volleyball

MB Camryn Carlo: Cornell

Bishop McLaughlin

Girls basketball

G Isabella Prada: Rollins

Softball

3B/C Emily Suchan: Enterprise State

Volleyball

OH Audrey Koenig: Florida State

DS/L Adrianna Lopez: Rollins

Calvary Christian

Baseball

RHP Jack Cebert: USF

RHP/OF Tyler Dietz: USF

C/1B/OF Zach Ferlita: Covenant

OF/LHP Charles Stevens: Butler

1B/OF Jackson Unice: Eckerd

Softball

SS/C Leah Jarnac: Duke

C/SS Sam Leski: Florida Gulf Coast

Track and field

Meredith Adams: Texas

Canterbury

Softball

1B/3B Sarah Young: Rollins

Clearwater Central Catholic

Soccer

F/MF Kendall Liermann: Towson

Tennis

Ryan Boland: Loyola Maryland

Emma Fernald: William & Mary

Dunedin

Baseball

OF/1B Marcus Brodil: South Florida

East Lake

Track and field

Anna Cincotta: Florida Atlantic

Jesuit

Baseball

P Dominic Castellano: Central Florida

OF B.J. Graham: Tulane

INF Nick Rodriguez: Charleston Southern

INF/C Cole Russo: Central Florida

P Alden Segui: North Carolina

P Jackson Shembekar: Tampa

P Ryan Skelly: Charleston Southern

P Joey Volini: South Florida

Largo

Girls soccer

Asti Luff: Citadel

Newsome

Softball

C Lydia Castro: South Florida

Olivia Dresser: McDaniel College

P/OF Kaitlyn Felton: Central Florida

1B Jadeyn Ruszkowski: Clemson

Osceola

Softball

UTIL Jayla Brooks: Delaware

Plant

Girls basketball

G Kendal Cheesman: Vanderbilt

G Nyla Jean: Georgia State

Volleyball

OH Erin Morrissey: Maryland

River Ridge

Softball

SS Brooke Blankenship: Florida State

C/UTIL Giulia Desiderio: South Carolina

Sunlake

Softball

OF Kendra Falby: Florida

Tampa Bay Tech

Girls basketball

G Knisha Godfrey: Mississippi State

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Baseball

No test score needed for high school athletes in Class of 2021 to be eligible at D-I or II

Bob Putnam

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The NCAA Eligibility Center announced Monday that high school rising seniors will not be required to take a standardized test to be eligible to play at play at a Division I or II school.

Part of the reason is the difficulty in taking the SAT or ACT during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

”Given the continuing impact of COVID-19, the NCAA membership made this decision with the health and well-being of incoming students top of mind,” NCAA Eligibility Center Vice President Felicia Martin said in a news release. “We understand the uncertainty in the educational environment and believe these changes will help ensure students have a fair opportunity to meet the initial-eligibility standard.”

Here is what the NCAA is requiring at the each of the two levels for high-school athletes in the Class of 2021.

Division I academic eligibility.

Grade point average: 2.3 in 16 NCAA-approved core courses, with 10 core courses (seven in English, math and science) completed by the start of their seventh semester in high school (prior to senior year).

Division II academic eligibility

Grade point average: a 2.2 grade-point average in 16 NCAA-approved core courses.

* International students-athletes enrolling in a Division I or II school during the 2021-22 academic year will be academically eligible if they complete 16 core-course units with at least a 2.3 (DI) or 2.2 (DII) grade-point average in those courses.

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