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Florida prep pitcher taken with last Draft pick

Eric Hanhold had a big day on Wednesday, but he knows there are bigger days to come. Hanhold graduated high school and became the final player selected in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday, but he said Thursday that he plans on attending college.

Hanhold, who has committed to the University of Florida, said he didn't find out about being drafted by the Phillies, in the 40th round and the 1,238th pick overall, until he was in the car on his way home from graduation. Now, Hanhold, the 14th "Don't Count Him Out" player recognized by, is thinking about his next move.

"It was a surprise," he said. "I pretty much told everyone I was going to college, but they drafted me anyway. It felt good to get drafted even though I wasn't expecting it."

Hanhold, a right-handed pitcher from East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs, Fla., said that he's seen some growth in his game in the past two years and that he expects more of the same in the future.

Don't Count Him Out
Below is a list of the last player selected in each of the past 14 First-Year Player Drafts
Year Player Team
2011 Eric Hanhold Phillies
2011 Kolya Stephenson Phillies
2010 James Rice Yankees
2009 Alibay Barkley Angels
2008 Kyle Stroup Red Sox
2007 Larry Day Yankees
2006 Charles Matthews Cardinals
2005 Blake Heym Yankees
2004 Eric Gonzalez Braves
2003 John Scaglione Braves
2002 John Powell Cardinals
2001 Patrick McGinnis Giants
2000 Drew Jackson Braves
1999 Scott Leitz Braves

The youngster, who's listed at 6-foot-4 and 175 pounds, said that his prospect status improved markedly in the summer after his junior season. Hanhold said he put on 25 pounds of muscle from eating better and going to the gym, and he hopes to continue his maturation in college.

"You put in the hard work and you'd like to see the results," he said. "I just feel like I want the college experience, and I think I have that in Florida and I can have a chance to grow as a player."

Hanhold said that he didn't grow up a Gators fan but that he's looking forward to enrolling in school and beginning his college career. He's no stranger to hard work, and he knows that he has a lot of stuff to do in the next couple years.

"I just need to improve my velocity and my consistency," he said of his primary areas for refinement. "Locate all of my pitches better and get all three of them working."

Hanhold's graduation happened to take place in a big league venue -- Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field -- and he said it was gratifying to walk across the stage and share the moment with his family. There will be more big moments in his future, and he hopes to have some contact with the Phillies.

"They have a great organization," he said. "And I hope in three years they draft me again."