USF could lose excess of players to pros

It’s been a bittersweet week for USF baseball coach Lelo Prado, who could see a major overhaul to his roster this offseason.

Ten Bulls – four current players and six signees – were drafted, leaving Prado to watch and wait as his current and potential future stars decide on their future.

“We’re happy for the kids. A lot of them should’ve been drafted a little higher,” Prado said Wednesday while following the 2010 MLB draft, which ran Monday through Wednesday. “Of course, I want every one of them back (and with) some of these high school kids, that’ll just make us a great club. But I’ll just leave that up to their family.”

“(It’s) not terrible (for the program) because kids come here and get drafted. They’re good players.”

Some of the biggest potential losses the Bulls could see are a trio of juniors – outfielder Stephen Hunt and starting pitchers Andrew Barbosa and Randy Fontanez.

Hunt, drafted as a pitcher despite spending the majority of his time in right field, was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 15th round, said a decision on his future will come later. Players have until mid-August to decide if they’re going to sign a professional contract or attend college.

“I’m just going to wait it out,” Hunt said Wednesday. “I haven’t really put too much thought into it. It’s just exciting to be able to get an opportunity to sign (while) doing what you’ve loved to do your entire life. It’s a great feeling.”

Hunt, who joins Fontanez and outfielder signee Kyle Waldrop as Reds draft picks, said he called Fontanez as soon as he got the news each were drafted by Cincinnati.

Fontanez, who led the Big East in strikeouts last season, went in the 23rd round, while Barbosa, a junior walk-on who had a Big East-best ERA last season, was drafted by the Giants in the 15th round following Hunt.

It was the third time Barbosa has been selected by the Giants, going in the 15th round out of high school in 2006 and in the 48th round in 2007.

Barbosa, Hunt and Fontanez all have one season of college eligibility left and are not far from graduating, which could factor into the decision, Prado said. Hunt and Barbosa could get up to $100,000 in signing bonuses if they sign with a pro team, however.

“They’re all close to finishing their degrees,” Prado said. “That’s what I’m hoping.”

Waldrop, the first Bull selected, was taken by Cincinnati, joining fellow signee left-handed pitcher Kyle Ryan in the 12th round. Ryan was selected by the Detroit Tigers six picks after Waldrop.

Hunt, who led USF in RBI (44), hits (67), slugging percentage (.509) and stolen bases (13) while tying for the team lead with seven homers, said playing in a brand new stadium next season could “definitely” factor into his decision to return to USF.

Construction is expected this summer on the new stadium, which is scheduled to open for USF’s 2011 season, and could be an intriguing prospect in the decision-making process for players deciding on the pros, Prado said.

“I think a lot of them know if all those guys come back we’ll have a really good team,” he said, “especially because of the disappointing year we had. I think if they all come back it’ll be one of the best teams I’ve ever had.”

Another USF signee drafted was Miami Monsignor Pace High School’s Ozney Guillen, the son of Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. Ozney, an outfielder, went to his father’s White Sox in the 22nd round, and Prado said that Ozney will play for USF next season as a walk-on.

Two more signees – outfielder Austin Knight of Palm Beach State and outfielder James Ramsay of Brandon High – were taken Wednesday, with Knight going in the 37th round to the Baltimore Orioles and Ramsay in the 38th to the New York Yankees.

Signee Nick.Gonzalez, a left-handed pitcher from Leto High, was taken in the 30th round by the Philadelphia Phillies, while junior catcher Eric Sim was selected by the Giants in the 27th round.

“I’ve had a bunch of other guys get drafted, but not this many all at one time,” Prado said.