June 7, 2011
Read John Denton's Knights Insider |
Follow us on Twitter |
Get social with the Knights on Facebook
By Brian Ormiston
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF's entertaining afternoon in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft wrapped up Tuesday with three more student-athletes being selected. Junior starting pitcher Danny Winkler (Effingham, Ill.) was taken in the 20th round by the Colorado Rockies, senior first baseman Jonathan Griffin (Bradenton, Fla.) heard his name called in the 21st round by the Arizona Diamondbacks and junior pitcher Chris Matulis (Boynton Beach, Fla.) was tagged in the 29th round by the St. Louis Cardinals.
"I'm obviously excited and very ecstatic," said Winkler. "My parents were following the draft all day and were the first to congratulate me. I learned so much here at UCF, and I knew I was going to help my draft status because of (head coach) Terry Rooney's reputation. I don't have many words to explain how excited I was to get that phone call from Colorado. It's a tremendous honor, and it has been a memorable day."
The trio join junior catcher Beau Taylor as four Knights who were selected in the MLB Draft this week. Rounds 31-50 will conclude the draft Wednesday beginning at noon.
After Taylor saw his name pop up in the fifth round by the Oakland Athletics, Winkler, Griffin and Matulis became UCF's 75th, 76th and 77th draft picks, respectively, in program history, which only dates back to 1973. A total of 53 of those picks were in the top-21 rounds while 66 were in the top 30.
This season also marks the fourth-straight year at least three Knights were picked up in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
In just his first season as a Knight, Winkler improved upon his résumé in a big way and that paid off Tuesday. Following his career at Parkland College, he was selected in the 43rd round by the Chicago Cubs but decided to come to UCF for his junior campaign and that enabled the right-hander to move all the way up to round No. 20.
UCF's Opening Day starter, Winkler dominated with his fastball all season long and became the first UCF pitcher since 2005 to post more than 90 strikeouts in a season (92). The righty finished with a 4.70 ERA and after moving to the bullpen midway through the year, he worked at least 5.0 innings in each of his final eight appearances including seven starts.
Winkler set a season-high with 7.0 innings of work at Florida State May 8, while striking out 11 in just 6.0 innings against Houston May 1. He notched at least six strikeouts in nine different appearances on the hill.
Similar to Winkler, Griffin climbed the draft boards as well thanks to two huge seasons in a Black and Gold uniform. The 6-foot-7 first baseman was selected in the 41st round out of Lakewood Ranch High School in 2007, and then in the 45th round in the 2008 MLB Draft out of the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.
When Griffin evolved into UCF's starting first baseman to begin the 2010 campaign, he quickly made a name for himself not just for his dynamic fielding work, but primarily for his muscle at the plate. He pummeled opposing pitchers in the second half of 2010 by hitting eight homers in his final 23 games, and crushed 13 overall as a junior.
While the home run numbers dropped across the country in 2011 due to new NCAA-regulated bats, that was what made Griffin stand out even more. The Bradenton native led Conference USA with 19 homers which also rank in the top-10 in the nation and were the second-most in UCF single-season history. Griffin, who hit .343 with 58 RBI and 53 runs in 2011 and was an All-C-USA First Team member, became the only Knight to rank in the school's top-10 career home run chart (sixth) after playing only two years in Black and Gold.
Also not a stranger to the MLB Draft, Matulis was first picked in the 2008 edition by the Tampa Bay Rays after he graduated from Park Vista High School. The lefty was recruited by Rooney at LSU where Matulis played his first two years of college ball from 2009-10. He had an 11-5 record with the Tigers including a 6-2 mark as a freshman.
Matulis had to sit out the 2011 season with the Knights due to NCAA transfer rules.