Once teammates on American Heritage’s infield, Tyler Frank and Jonathan India are on the precipice of achieving their major league dreams. And they happen to be in the same place yet again.
India’s Florida Gators and Frank’s Florida Atlantic Owls are both playing in the Gainesville Regional in the first round of the NCAA tournament this weekend. Both former Stallions will likely hear their names called early in the MLB Amateur Draft, which starts with the first round and competitive balance selections on Monday and continues through Wednesday.
“They’re both very similar, they’re both so well-rounded, and now they’re both grounded,” American Heritage coach Carm Mazza said. “The sky is the limit if both work really hard.”
India’s career in Gainesville had an inauspicious beginning. After a strong freshman year, he and the Gators made the College World Series. Down a run in a potential elimination situation, India drilled a line drive to left field and, representing the tying run, tried to dig for second. He was thrown out to end the game and Florida’s title hopes.
“He was doing everything he could do to become that tying run,” Mazza said. “I think it made him stronger.”
The season-ending out didn’t dampen India’s career. He had a good sophomore campaign and has had a prolific junior season in Gainesville. India was hitting a team-leading .362 with 17 home runs and a 1.225 OPS entering the regional tournament. He was named a first-team All-American by Baseball America, and he is expected to go in the first round, which will be televised on MLB Network at 7 p.m. Monday.
“I definitely saw (Division I),” Mazza said. “Did I feel that, if he was D-1, would he probably get a pro opportunity? Yeah. To see him this year … just when he would step in the box, you knew you were looking at a different animal.”
Mazza said India is not only a talented player, but he has knack for the game that exceeds most other players the longtime Stallions coach has mentored.
“He’s probably one of the smartest players I’ve had on the field, baseball IQ-wise,” Mazza said.
Frank will likely go a little later in the draft. MLB.com ranks him the No. 73 overall prospect. He has hit .315 with 13 home runs and a 1.045 OPS for the Owls this year.
“Scouts see a future solid, albeit unspectacular, everyday type big leaguer when they watch Frank, in a sort of Mark Ellis-type of mold,” his MLB.com scouting report says.
But Mazza sees a fierce competitor who won’t let himself fall short.
“He was always a little undersized in high school, so he just didn’t want to be defeated,” Mazza said. “You weren’t going to outwork him, you weren’t going to out-hustle him. … He just wants to be great, and he just doesn’t stop working.”