Virginia in 'great position' for next season after MLB Draft
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- There are two ways to watch the MLB Draft as a college baseball coach, one to see the players achieving their lifelong dream and two to see how next season's roster will shape up.
Virginia baseball coach Brian O'Connor was doing a little of both as four Cavaliers were selected in the first six rounds of the draft for only the third time in program history.
"When you have a lot of players go and your eyes are also on the high school part of it, your incoming recruits, there's a lot going on during that time," O'Connor said.
Catcher Kyle Teel started off the draft for UVA going No. 15 overall to the Boston Red Sox and was followed later in the night by third baseman Jake Gelof at No. 60 to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The next day two more Cavaliers were picked in lefty pitcher Connelly Early to the Red Sox in the fifth round and center fielder Ethan O'Donnell to the Cincinnati Reds in the sixth round.
"Obviously it brings notoriety to our program and university," O'Connor said, "But individually for the players is just something that they dream about that they worked incredibly hard for."
But as the dust settles, O'Connor turns his attention to the future with four All-ACC performers onto the next level and filling the empty spots left behind. The holes in the starting lineup are at catcher, third base and center field, while pitching will become a target in the transfer portal as well.
"I think we're in a great position for next year," O'Connor said, "Certainly, we still need to, over the coming weeks, acquire a couple of players to fill some gaps on our roster, and we're in the process of doing that."
On top of the four juniors drafted, Virginia also saw highly rated high school outfield commit Jonny Farmelo selected in the first round by the Seattle Mariners and three incoming transfers drafted. Just a day after the draft O'Connor and his coaching staff were already busy recruiting players to fill those spots in the transfer portal, a familiar theme during the summer months.
"With losing our high school draft in Jonny Farmelo to the Mariners, we're looking to see what we can acquire in center field and also behind the plate and on the mound," O'Connor said.
Despite the losses at the top of the MLB Draft, the Cavaliers return a roster filled with experience from last season's run to the College World Series. O'Connor chalks up those departures as part of the deal when the program is competing at the highest level of college baseball.
"I think we're in a great position. I love the pitching that we have coming back, certainly some dynamic position players, and certainly we're going to have somebody new behind the plate, third base, and in center field," O'Connor said, "When you're competing at a high level, those are the things that happen. You have to prepare for them, and we've got high level players that are coming in here to step into those roles."