Six Local Players Selected in Major League Draft, Led by Haven's Tyler Pike
Tue. June 05, 2012 at 11:09 p.m. | By Mike Cobb
WINTER HAVEN'S TYLER PIKE was selected Tuesday by the Seattle Mariners with the 126th overall pick. He said he might decide today whether to sign or keep his commitment to Florida State. (Photo by MICHAEL WILSON | THE LEDGER )
By MIKE COBB
Winter Haven High left-hander Tyler Pike had no idea where he'd end up in the Major League Baseball draft.
So, when his name was called with the 126th overall pick (in the Compensatory B Round after the third round) by the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday, he was shocked.
"It's unreal," Pike said. "I wasn't expecting to be drafted that high at all. It was definitely a shock."
Pike was one of six players from Polk County who were drafted on Tuesday.
Polk State and former Lakeland High right-handed pitcher Alec Asher went to Texas in the fourth round; UCF and former Winter Haven left-handed pitcher Joe Rogers was picked in the fifth round by Detroit; Winter Haven catcher Levi Borders, son of Winter Haven coach and former major league catcher Pat Borders, was taken in the 11th round by Atlanta; Haines City right-handed pitcher Robert Whalen went in the 12th round to the New York Mets; and All Saints right-hander Carson Fulmer went in the 15th round to Boston.
On Monday, University of Florida pitcher Brian Johnson, son of Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Vice President Jackie Johnson, was the 31st overall pick in the first round by Boston. Johnson is a graduate of Cocoa Beach High School.
Pike, a 6-foot, 180-pound left-hander, was 9-2 with a 0.51 ERA and 134 strikeouts for Winter Haven this year. He has signed with Florida State.
"He's a left-handed pitcher that can pitch (inside) to righties," Winter Haven coach Pat Borders said. "He has some deception on his velocity."
Pike, who throws in the low 90s, said he grew this year as a pitcher under the direction of Borders.
"Everything I know (about pitching) I learned from him — to watch people swing, they'll tell you what your next pitch can be; don't overdo, stay within yourself; read hitters; how to throw different pitches," he said.
Pike said he and his father, Mark Pike, were planning to talk to the Mariners later Tuesday night to hear their offer, then they will make the decision whether he'll sign or go to Florida State.
Going into the draft, Pike and Fulmer were the two highest rated prospects from Polk County according to Baseball America. Pike was ranked No. 125 by Baseball America.
Fulmer who has signed with Vanderbilt, was No. 123 after going 10-1 and helping lead All Saints to the Class 2A state semifinals this season.
He may have dropped in the draft because of baseball's new collective bargaining agreement, which puts tighter restrictions on signing bonuses for players in the draft. Because of that, there is less room to negotiate signing bonuses. Teams have been less likely to draft a player they might not be able to sign, citing a player's "signability."
"Vanderbilt was the school I committed to, and they are known as a top SEC athletic program and academic program," he said. "Going in, I had higher expectations being committed to Vandy, and maybe my signability number was kind of high."
Fulmer said he and his family do plan to talk to the Red Sox soon.
"My family and I will wait for the draft to settle and see how it shakes out," Fulmer said. "We're not making a decision right away."
Either way, he added, "It's a privilege to go to Vandy, and to be draft by the Red Sox. I couldn't be more thankful."
Asher, drafted in the 23rd round by San Francisco two years ago, was 13-1 with a 1.38 ERA and 118 strikeouts and helped lead Polk State to a berth in the NJCAA World Series this season. He said he is leaning toward signing with the Rangers.
"I'm beyond excited right now," Asher said. "It's a high-enough round that it's probably something you can't pass up."
While at Lakeland, Dreadnaught coach Bob Gendron said, "He had a knack, for commanding three pitches, but he wasn't throwing 95-96 (mph) like he is now. He'd touch 91-92 but had great command on fastball and breaking ball."
Asher said his fastball topped out at 97 mph this year, but added, "I sat around 90-94 (mph) in most of my starts."
Rogers, who said he is leaning toward signing, has been UCF's closer the past three years but said, "I think (the Tigers) want to see me become a starting pitcher. I'm on board with that."
He was 4-1 with a 1.60 ERA and 12 saves this year. In his three years at UCF, he is 12-5 with a 3.71 ERA and 29 saves.
He said he had no idea what to expect in the draft.
"Coming into the year, I didn't try to set my expectations too high," he said. "I knew if played one day at a time, I knew God had a plan. I just wanted to hang out with teammates, enjoy the memories."
Borders has signed to play baseball at South Florida and also plans to walk on with the football team this fall as a quarterback. For Winter Haven this past season, he hit .365 with five home runs.
Whalen, who has signed with Florida Atlantic, was 6-2 with 77 strikeouts and helped lead Haines City to an 18-8 overall record and an 8-2 district record this season.
Whalen, Pike, Fulmer and Borders were all selected to play in the FACA State All-Star Game in Sebring on May 26.