Maldonado joins Dalton, Dyson, McConnell as MLB draftees

UF senior Nelson Maldonado. (Cyndi Chambers/The Gainesville Sun)

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The Chicago Cubs selected Florida senior outfielder Nelson Maldonado in the 21st round (642 overall pick) of the Major League Baseball draft Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Florida junior pitcher Tyler Dyson was drafted by Washington Nationals in fifth round (153rd overall pick) and junior outfielder Wil Dalton was selected in the eighth round (the 257th overall pick) by the Boston Red Sox.

On Monday night, Kansas City selected Florida shortstop Brady McConnell in the second round of the Major League Baseball Draft.

McConnell, the 44th overall pick, is the fourth UF shortstop to be drafted in the past five years, joining Richie Martin (2015), Dalton Guthrie (2017) and Deacon Liput (2018).

After battling injury as a freshman in 2018, McConnell stepped into a starring role in the Gators’ lineup this year. The Merritt Island native started 59 games at shortstop and hit .332 with 48 RBI.

He led the team with 15 home runs, setting a school record for home runs by a shortstop (previously Mark Ellis, 14 in 1998). In SEC play, McConnell led the team with a .299 average, 11 home runs and 26 RBI.

McConnell, a sophomore, is draft eligible because he turned 21 in May. He joins recent Gators Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar in the Royals organization.

Dyson is the 48th Gators pitcher to be drafted in 12 years under coach Kevin O’Sullivan, including 23 pitchers taken in the top 10 rounds of the draft.

Gators’ fans will forever remember Dyson as the starting pitcher in Florida’s 2017 College World Series Championship Game 2 win over LSU. In the clinching game, Dyson was the winning pitcher after tossing six innings with just one run allowed.

Despite battling various injuries the past two years, Dyson has a 12-5 career record with a 4.26 earned run average over 49 appearances, including 22 starts. In 2019, he went 3-2 over 11 games (9 starts) with a 4.95 ERA in 43.2 innings pitched.

Dalton, a native of Spring Hill, Tenn., hit 27 home runs in his two seasons in Gainesville. He batted .262 over two seasons with 94 career RBI and 104 runs scored.
As a sophomore in 2018, he led the Gators with 60 RBI and launched 19 homers – ranking second in the SEC in both categories – to earn Second Team All-SEC honors. As a junior, Dalton hit .262 with eight home runs and 34 RBI as the Gators’ everyday right fielder.
Dalton joins four other former Gators in the Red Sox organization: Brian Johnson, Austin Maddox, Bobby Poyner and Josh Tobias.

Maldonado, a Tampa native, was a four-year starter for the Gators and finished with a .292 batting average, 31 home runs and 149 RBI. His 258 games played and 246 games started each rank in the top four all-time in Florida baseball history.

As a senior, Maldonado had a career-best year – leading the team with a .343 average with a career-high 10 home runs.

With four selections in 2019, Florida now has a total of 88 players chosen in the MLB draft under coach Kevin O’Sullivan. Maldonado is the first Gators player drafted by the Cubs since outfielder Brian Leclerc in 2007.


  1. Would love to see Brady come back, but it probably makes most sense for him to get started in the minor league system. The body only has so many years to play sports at the top level, better get the $$ while you can.