By Joel Delgado ’12 MS ’17
FIU catcher Aramis Garcia found out he was drafted the same way everyone else did – by watching on TV.
He was with a group of family and friends on Thurday, June 5, when his name and picture popped up on the screen, showing that he was drafted 52nd overall by the San Francisco Giants in the second round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Garcia becomes the second-highest drafted Panther in program history, just two spots behind Josh Banks who was selected 50th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2003.
The 6-2, 220-pound junior catcher from Pembroke Pines is coming off a stellar junior season, finishing with a team-high .368 batting average with eight home runs and 37 runs batted in while winning Conference USA Player of the Year. He was also recently named an All-American.
For Garcia, 21, the pick marks the realization of his life-long dream of playing professional baseball.
“It’s all pretty surreal right now,” said Garcia, a sports fitness major who has been a member of the Dean’s List six times at FIU. “It is such an honor to be selected by such a great organization with a lot of great history. I’m really excited to get to work. This is a dream come true for me.”
One day and several rounds later, FIU pitcher Mike Franco was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the seventh round with the 217th overall pick.
As the team’s Friday night starter in 2014, Franco went 9-3 in his junior season and had opposing hitters guessing all year long. He struck out 112 batters and posted a 1.09 ERA – second best in the nation – in 15 starts for the Panthers.
His selection marked the fourth time in program history that FIU had two players selected in the first ten rounds of the draft. The last time that happened was in 2004.
Then, on the final day of the draft June 7, the Chicago White Sox drafted two Panthers – pitcher Mike Gomez (13th round) and outfielder Louis Silverio (33rd round).
Gomez, a senior, was the Panthers closer and set a program record for career saves (25) this season while striking out 22 batters in 23.3 innings pitched in 2014.
A hand injury sidelined Silverio for some parts of the season, but he ended up with a .273 average and drove in five runs in his junior season.