With season behind, several players eyeing draft

Several Gophers players have a shot at getting drafted, but not all are sure if they’ll sign or return for another season with Minnesota.

Samuel Gordon

After their season ended in the Big Ten tournament Saturday, a handful of Gophers are turning their hopes to the MLB First-Year Player Draft on June 6-8.

Closer Scott Matyas is familiar with the process by now.

Matyas was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 29th round of the 2009 draft, but opted to return for a junior season, after which he was selected in the 40th round by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Despite being picked by his hometown team, the North Prairie, Wis., native decided to return for his senior season, in which he broke the Big Ten record for career saves  and was named to the All-Big Ten First Team.

Matyas is a lock to get drafted again, but he likely wonâÄôt be the only Gophers player targeted on draft day.

Shortstop AJ Pettersen is a potential draftee as well.

The Minnetonka native led the team with a .344 batting average and earned a spot on the All-Big Ten First Team alongside Matyas.

Pettersen, along with most potential draft prospects, said he is taking a wait-and-see approach.

âÄúIâÄôve been talking to some people and trying to figure things out,âÄù Pettersen said.

Circumstances will dictate whether Pettersen opts to sign or not, but the redshirt junior said he intends to play professionally some day.

âÄúIâÄôve been dreaming about it since I was a little kid,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs pretty exciting that I might get that opportunity.âÄù

First baseman Nick OâÄôShea and outfielder Justin Gominsky could also wind up drafted, according to head coach John Anderson

OâÄôShea is coming off a junior campaign in which he batted .299, and led the team with seven home runs and 34 RBIs and earned All-Big Ten Third Team after garnering First Team honors a year ago.

He missed several weeks early in the season with damage to the cartilage surrounding his rib cage, and a new bat standard stunted offensive numbers âÄî particularly power numbers âÄîacross the country.

He said the draft process is stressful at times, but is ultimately an exciting experience.

Like Pettersen, OâÄôShea said that signing a contract will depend on the opportunity.

âÄúI think it all depends on how IâÄôm treated in the draft,âÄù he said. âÄúI would like to pursue professional baseball at some time, and if itâÄôs right this year, thatâÄôd be the route IâÄôd take.âÄù

Gominsky, who missed the majority of the 2010 season with a knee injury, was second on the team with a .307 batting average and showed off his arm from the outfield in the Big Ten tournament.

College players must have completed their junior season or be 21 years old to be draft-eligible. Sophomore starter TJ Oakes, 20, will also be eligible through of a loophole which qualifies a player if they turn 21 within 45 days of the draft.

âÄúIf they ask us for help, weâÄôll help,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúItâÄôs their life, itâÄôs their career. They have to decide what works for them. We arenâÄôt going to tell them what to do. ItâÄôs not my job,âÄù

Minnesota has had success in recent drafts; six Gophers were chosen in the 2009 draft, and four in 2010.