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MLB draft begins tonight

The 2012 roster for the USF baseball team will become clearer after the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft, which begins today.

Round one of the First-Year Player draft will take place in Secaucus, N.J., tonight, rounds 2-30 Tuesday and rounds 31-50 Wednesday.

USF’s highest-drafted player is expected to be one who has never worn the green and gold. Alonso High School starting pitcher Jose Fernandez is expected to be a first-round pick and would likely skip college to begin his professional baseball career.

Players are eligible to be drafted once they have graduated from high school. If a player chooses not to sign by the August 15 deadline, he can then go to a two-year or four-year college. Junior college players can be drafted at any time, while four-year college players only become draft eligible after their junior season or their 21st birthday. Players can choose not to sign and be drafted by a different team in subsequent drafts or the same team with the player’s permission.

Slugging first baseman Roderick “Rock” Shoulders of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, is also a USF commit who is likely to be drafted. He was drafted last year in the 20th round to the Boston Red Sox, but didn’t commit. It’s unclear how high Shoulders would have to be drafted in order to sign a contract and skip USF.

The now draft-eligible juniors on USF’s roster include catcher Daniel Rockhold, pitchers Andrew Loynaz and Jimmy Moran, shortstop Sam Mende and infielder Mario Mitchell.

Mende has been a three-year starter at shortstop for the Bulls after opting not to sign with the New York Yankees following the 2008 draft. The Yankees drafted Mende in the 40th round. He hit .263 with 29 RBIs and five home runs for USF this season.

Rockhold missed a majority of the season with a thumb injury and batted .194 with seven RBIs and two home runs. He batted .300 with 33 RBIs and seven home runs in 2010.

Moran went 4-1 with a 3.91 ERA in 20 appearances as a short reliever this season, pitching 23 innings and striking out 18 batters.

The Pittsburgh Pirates hold the top pick in the draft followed by the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Florida Marlins will pick 14th, with the Tampa Bay Rays picking 24th in the first round. The Rays also have seven of the 27 picks in the first compensatory round, which takes place before the second round.