UPDATED: 6:45 p.m.:
BOCA RATON – Major League Baseball teams selected four more FAU baseball players on Wednesday, raising the total number of Owls chosen in the 2019 draft to five.
The selections send Owls all across the continent. Pitcher Mike Ruff is headed for the mountains. Center fielder Eric Rivera and pitcher Blake Sanderson are off to Canada. Vince Coletti is west coast bound.
They join heartland-bound catcher Pedro Pages, a St. Louis Cardinals selection during Tuesday’s sixth round.
The Colorado Rockies selected the righty with the 22nd pick of the 11th round, number 339 overall, of the MLB draft on Wednesday. Less than an hour later Toronto chose Rivera with the 10th pick of the 14th round, number 417 overall. Oakland picked Coletti with the 2th selection of the 17th round. Toronto reached back into the FAU pool by grabbing Sanderson in the 31st round.
Ruff received the call from they Rockies that they had chosen him shortly after the draft resumed at noon.
“It was mind blowing,” Ruff said, who intends to forego his final year of eligibility and sign a professional contract.
Possessing a 96 mph fastball but often lacking control, Ruff posted a 6-5 record with a 5.80 record as a senior. His best outing of the year came in the C-USA tournament, allowing only one run on three hits while striking out 11 in 7 1/3 innings against Western Kentucky. For the season, Ruff struck out 98 batters in 85 1/3 innings.
Ruff credits more focused bullpens, which began midway through the season and emphasized control of his pitchers rather than velocity, with his improved second half of the year.
“The spots became the more important parts of my pen,” Ruff said. “That’s what I focused on.”
Rivera nearly came off the board on Tuesday.
Baltimore called Rivera with the intention of selecting him in the seventh round but the two couldn’t agree on a signing bonus.
Once the draft concluded its Tuesday session with the 10th round, Rivera had all night to ponder that decision.
“It was tough but I knew that in my heart it was the right decision for me,” Rivera said. “My gut told me not to go.”
He wasn’t worried about falling too far in the draft.
“Whatever organization gets me, they are going to get a big league center fielder one day,” Rivera said.
A smooth fielder capable of playing all three outfield positions and potentially some infield, Rivera says the Blue Jays picked him to play center field. He hit .332 as the Owls’ lead-off man this season, belting six homers and scoring 59 runs. He struck out only 22 times in 262 at-bats.
Coletti began his FAU career as a starter but all 35 of his appearances this past season came in relief. Relying on a 92 mph fastball and a strong 12-to-6 curve ball, Coletti posted a 4-2 record with one save and a 4.21 ERA during his senior season. The A’s also chose FAU signee Dustin Harris in the 11th round.
The Owls’ Friday night starter in 2019 and an All-Conference USA selection, Sanderson posted an 8-3 record with a 4.10 ERA in his first full season as a starter. Sanderson’s fastball topped out at 94 this season. He also throws a hybrid slider/curve and a change-up.