Wiregrass Ranch pitcher John Michael Gant became the first player from the North Suncoast taken in the 2011 Major League Baseball first-year player draft after the New York Mets selected the right-hander in the 21st round (pick No. 642 overall).
Gant traveled to New York over the weekend to perform for the Mets in a pre-draft workout at Citi Field. The big-league club from the Big Apple apparently liked what they saw in the 6-foot-4, 175 pounder who has command of a fastball, curveball and change-up and tops out at 92 MPH on the radar gun, although they didn't indicate their interest to Gant at the time. Gant said he threw a couple bullpen sessions from the Mets bullpen mound and also got to throw from the game mound at Citi Field during his workout for the team.
"I had an idea they might be interested," Gant said. "If a team invites you to their pre-draft workout, that usually means they want to draft you."
Gant went 6-0 with a 1.90 ERA for Wiregrass Ranch as a senior. He tossed two no-hitters and struck out 107 batters to lead all North Suncoast pitchers. He was named the St. Petersburg Times' All-North Suncoast pitcher of the year and was an All-Sunshine Athletic Conference east county first team pick.
"After my workout, I figured I would go somewhere between rounds ten and 20," Gant said. "I guess the 21st round wasn't too far off."
Gant, who signed with Long Island University before the start of his senior season at Wiregrass Ranch, said he was unsure whether he would go to college or turn pro. The decision, according to Gant, will likely come down to what kind of a signing bonus the Mets offer.
"I'm still on the fence," Gant said. "No monetary offer has been made yet. I have no idea yet."