O'Sullivan's future more clear than that of Florida's roster with MLB draft a month out

Graham Hall
Special to The Sun
Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan and staff await what the MLB draft will do to his current and future roster.

Florida baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan provided clarity Thursday in regard to recent reports that he’s a candidate to bolt for LSU, saying he’s “fully committed” to the Gators. 

“This is where I want to be,” O’Sullivan said in a statement released by UF, “and I do not have interest in the head coach openings at any other school.” 

As for the rest of the UF program, however, the future remains uncertain with the MLB draft now just a month away. 

Current projections expect the Gators to lose at least five players from this season’s team to the draft, highlighted by third-year sophomore Jud Fabian. 

A native of Ocala, Fabian is pegged as a potential first-round talent after tallying a team-high 20 home runs for the 2021 season. He possesses desirable speed, is a hard-thrower and is one of the youngest draft-eligible college players in the pool, making it almost a certainty Fabian will be heading to the league in 2022 rather than returning to Gainesville – unless some team gets scared off by the team-high 79 strikeouts and he somehow falls to the second round or beyond, that is. 

If Fabian were to drop outside of the first round, a return to UF remains a possibility, and it would allow him to play the 2022 season with his younger brother, Deric, who joins Florida as a 2021 class signee, while also allowing Jud to maintain his leverage as a junior. 

When it comes to the mound, UF may also see a trio of pitchers depart the program and head for the draft in Tommy Mace, Jack Leftwich and Franco Aleman. 

Mace compiled a 4.38 ERA and a 6-2 record while serving primarily as the team’s Friday starter in 2021. He’s ranked by as the 34th overall prospect in the draft, meaning it’s a realistic possibility he’s off the board by the end of the first round.

It wouldn’t be his first time getting drafted, but would likely be his last. 

Mace went undrafted in 2020's COVID-shortened selections, but still returned to Florida despite a lucrative offer from an unnamed team that would have paid him north of seven figures if he were to have signed, per a source close to the situation, but Mace ultimately bet on himself and no deal came to fruition, clearing the way for him to return to Gainesville. 

Leftwich figures to hear his name called between rounds five and 10 after impressively transitioning from starter to reliever midway through the conference slate. 

As for Aleman, he seems worth the risk of a pick considering he stands 6-foot-6, has an impressive frame and can reach up to 98 miles-per-hour on his pitches. 

Sophomore Nathan Hickey is another Gator who should hear his name called next month after the 21-year-old led UF with a .317 batting average, leading several scouts to the assertion he was Florida’s best hitter last season. 

Rounding out the list is Jupiter native Kris Armstrong, who at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds should convince a team to take a waiver on him after tallying 42 hits across 142 at-bats this past season. 

And that’s just where things stand for Florida’s current roster — once again, the program’s incoming signees will be on full display as well when the draft commences. 

Andrew Painter and Chase Petty, a pair of right-handed pitchers in the 2021 class, figure to be drafted in the first round, effectively ending any chance remaining they’d make it to campus and compete at Florida Ballpark. The Gators' 2021 Class ranks No. 1 by Baseball America. The Gators have signed eight consecutive top-five classes.

Painter stands at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, and he’s currently the 18th overall prospect on’s ranking of draft-eligible prospects, while Petty checks in at No. 25 on the same list. 

Another name to watch is that of Jay Allen, the 6-foot-3 outfielder from Fort Pierce. He’s No. 37 on MLB’s list, although he may choose to bet on himself and work his way into the first round. 

While O’Sullivan’s disclosure provides some lucidity, the truth is it was only the beginning when it comes to the potential shake-up of the Florida baseball team this offseason. Seven players on the current roster, including sophomore infielder Cory Acton, junior left-handed pitcher/utility player Jordan Butler and sophomore pitcher Ben Specht, are seeking more playing time and put their names in the NCAA transfer portal earlier this week.