‘Great franchise’ Atlanta selects Schlosser in MLB draft

jdill@bradenton.comJune 9, 2011 

Gus Schlosser took the earliest steps on his path to the major leagues alongside Lakewood Ranch and Manatee Community College teammate Jon Griffin.

Though their journeys diverged for the past two years, Schlosser and Griffin got the big call within hours of each other, drafted four rounds apart Tuesday during the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

“I love the fact that we’re both going out at the same time,” said Schlosser, who was taken by the Atlanta Braves in the 17th round. “That’s the first thing I thought of as soon as I got drafted. Well, OK, now it’s Jonathan’s turn. I’m definitely happy we both get to go out at the same time. ... I talked to him (Wednesday) a little bit.”

The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Griffin, a power-hitting first baseman out of Central Florida, in the 21st round.

Schlosser, a right-handed pitcher, recently wrapped up his senior year at Florida Southern and plans on signing with the Braves, an organization he grew up watching. He said Chipper Jones is one of his favorite players.

“It’s definitely great to be a part of such a great franchise, with such history,” said Schlosser, who sported a 7-1 record and a 2.90 earned run average in 2011 for the Mocs.

The final day of the 50-round draft was Wednesday.

Among other local products, former Manatee and SCF standout Derek Luciano joined Griffin, his Central Florida teammate, as a Diamondbacks selection.

Luciano, who hit .265 with six homers and 36 RBIs for the Knights in his senior season, was taken in the 44th round. He was the third area prospect Arizona picked.

The second was Austin Platt, a transplant from Austin, Texas, who played at three local high schools and IMG Baseball Academy.

After Platt worked out for the Diamondbacks on June 1 and again on Tuesday at Armwood High as the draft was proceeding, Arizona took the 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher in the 26th round.

Platt played at Bayshore before transferring to Manatee. He played sparingly for the Canes and transferred for his senior year at Braden River. Platt said he didn’t get much playing time with the Pirates, either.

The Bradenton resident graduated from Braden River in 2010 and headed to IMG Academies for its summer wood bat league.

After excelling there, Platt went to Florida State College-Jacksonville, but left school and returned to Manatee County, where he continued to work out.

He joined his father, Richard, in building a website to show scouts and others just what he could do.

While at McKechnie Field to watch a spring training game this past March, Platt participated in the speed pitch contest and fired a 95 mph pitch bare-footed.

He said that drew the attention of McKechnie’s spring residents, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But a different National League franchise called Tuesday.

“I was on the phone with the scout that scouted me and drafted me,” Platt said. “My mom came running out. We were at Haile Middle School. She came running out of her room, and started screaming, ‘You got drafted! You got drafted!’”

Three IMG Baseball Academy players were drafted Wednesday as well.

The Colorado Rockies grabbed Brandon Bonilla, the son of six-time All-Star and 1997 World Series champion Bobby Bonilla, in the 37th round. Bonilla, a left-handed pitcher, went 2-2 with a 1.38 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 45 innings of action. He has committed to Arizona State.

“He’s a big-game pitcher,” said Ken Bolek, the academy director. “He’s a competitor. He’s continued to develop as a pitcher and utilizes a power fastball and curveball as his ‘out’ pitches.”

The Boston Red Sox picked catcher Matthew Martin in the 44th round (1,342th overall). He hit .429 with nine doubles and 23 RBIs.

The Oakland A’s selected first baseman Charles Sheffield in the 49th round. Sheffield, who has committed to Georgia Tech, hit .395 with three homers and 17 RBIs.

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