The former FAU shortstop signed with Tampa Bay on Friday night while sitting in a team suite at Tropicana Field during the third inning of Rays’ 4-3 loss to Seattle.
“It was amazing, a dream come true,” Frank said. “It was unbelievable.”
Frank signed his first professional contract four days after Tampa selected him in the second round of the 2018 MLB draft with pick No. 56 overall.
At the time of Frank’s selection he was on the field for FAU’s regional final game against Florida in the NCAA Tournament’s Gainesville regional.
At the time Frank didn’t know he had been drafted. Word did filter to FAU coach John McCormack, but he elected not to inform his shortstop during the game.
McCormack waited until he and Frank were walking to the postgame press conference to give him the news.
“Just so you know, you were drafted a couple hours ago in the second round,” McCormack causually told Frank.
For Frank, that meant experiencing one of the lowest points of a baseball career – the elimination of a team that had the potential to reach a College World Series – and one of the highest – the first step of a professional career – within minutes of each other.
“Very weird, very weird,” Frank said of the moments following the loss to Florida. “It was kind of one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt and one of the best feelings at the same time. You can only imagine what that feels like.”
In Frank, Tampa Bay is getting a polished performer in the field and at the plate. Conference USA’s Defensive Player of the Year hit .310 during his three-year FAU career with 25 homers and 105 RBI.
He’s also versatile, having played catcher and shortstop for FAU, along with the outfield and other infield spots for Team USA last summer.
“Made himself a better hitter, developed power, got stronger,” McCormack said of Frank’s tenure at FAU. “Everybody was skeptical about us playing him at short and he turned into a really good shortstop and it was just by more ground balls and more ground balls, and more agility and more agility, and working on arm strength. He’s someone that really, really understands his craft and works at it.”
On Saturday Frank began his journey to New York, where he’ll start his professional career as a member of the Hudson Valley Renegades of the short season New York-Penn League. He says Tampa selected him to play shortstop.
He ended up being the first of six Owls selected in this year’s MLB Draft, two shy of a program record.
Additionally, reliever Drew Peden signed with the Windy City ThunderBolts of the independent Frontier League.
“That just shows how good of a team we had,” Frank said.