For the first time since 1993, three players from the Lipscomb University Bison baseball program have been selected as part of the 2017 Major League Baseball draft. The first 36 picks were broadcast on the MLB network on Monday, June 12, and the rest was live streamed on MLB.com June 13-14.
On Tuesday, June 13, the Kansas City Royals selected Lipscomb junior Michael Gigliotti in the fourth round with the 120th overall pick, making him the 27th Bison in history to be drafted to the Major Leagues and the second-highest player ever drafted out of the Bisons program.
That same day, the Miami Marlins selected junior right-hander Brady Puckett in the 15th round with the 449th overall pick, making him the 10th player under head coach Jeff Forehand and the 28th Bison in history to have their name called. Puckett and Gigliotti’s selections mark the first time in program history that the Bisons have had two players taken in the first 15 rounds.
On the third and final day of the 2017 MLB Draft, Lipscomb junior Jeffrey Passantino was chosen in the 40th round, when the Chicago Cubs used the last pick of the draft to select the right-handed hurler. Passantino represents the 11th Bison to be drafted in the Forehand era and the 29th Lipscomb player to ever be selected.
“We are all very excited for Michael as this is what he has always wanted,” said Forehand. “He is one of the best players I have ever had the privilege of coaching and as great a person as he is on the field, he is even better off. I can’t wait for him to get into the Royals organization and get going. He will be a great professional and we wish him nothing but the best on his journey to the big leagues.”
The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native who came to Nashville with only two Division I scholarship offers, will go down as one of the best players in Lipscomb’s history after rewriting the record books in only three years.
Gigliotti’s stellar career includes a .308 average with 193 hits, 31 doubles, 11 home runs and 69 RBI. He owns multiple school records, including runs scored (166), walks (107) and triples (9). He also stole 63 career bases for the Bisons, just two shy of the school record.
Another weapon in his arsenal is the ability to lay down a bunt. Gigliotti successfully recorded 53 bunt singles in his career, while leading the nation in 2015 with 22 and in 2016 with 17.
The speedy center fielder was named the ASUN Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, while also garnering second team All-ASUN status from the league’s coaches for the third consecutive season.
He paced the conference as a junior with 60 runs and 31 stolen bases and finished second with 51 walks. He also batted .282 (57-for-202) with 14 doubles, three home runs, 17 RBI and a .447 on-base percentage.
Gigliotti quickly started making a name for himself in 2015 when he was named a Louisville Slugger and NCBWA Freshman All-American while helping lead the Bisons to a school record 39 wins, an ASUN Championship and a berth in an NCAA Regional.
As a freshman the lefty started 58 games in center where he batted .336 (78-for-232) with 51 runs, five doubles, five homers, 28 RBI, 25 walks and 17 stolen bases.
Gigliotti followed with a sophomore campaign in 2016 that saw him bat .302 (58-for-192) with 55 runs, 12 doubles, three homers, 24 RBI, 31 walks and 15 stolen bases.
“Michael has had a phenomenal career at Lipscomb,” Forehand said. “Without question he will go down as one of the best, if not the best, player to have ever come through this program. We will sure miss him and everything he was able to do on the field.”
Rex Brothers, taken 34th overall in the first round of the 2009 MLB Draft, is the only Bison to have ever been drafted higher than Gigliotti.
The Kansas City Royals have played in two of the last three Word Series’, bringing home the organization’s second Championship in 2015.
“The Marlins just got themselves a good one, not only as a pitcher, but also as a person,” said Forehand. “He is going to be a great pro and our entire program looks forward to seeing him play in the big leagues.”
Puckett’s selection marks the first time in program history that the Bisons have had two players taken in the first 15 rounds of the MLB Draft after Michael Gigliotti was scooped up Tuesday by the Kansas City Royals in the fourth round at 120th overall.
A two-time All-ASUN Conference selection, The Murfreesboro, Tennessee native is coming off his junior year in Nashville where he posted an 8-6 mark with 15 starts on the rubber. He went over the century mark for the second consecutive season, tossing 101 innings with a 4.10 ERA and 70 strikeouts.
By the time the 6-foot-9 hurler closed the 2017 season, he found himself owning multiple Lipscomb Division I records. He is tops in career wins (24), complete games (8) and innings pitched (288.0), while his 216 career strikeouts are fifth most.
He also tied current Boston Red Sox southpaw Chris Sale for the most career ASUN Pitcher of the Week awards with six.
Puckett’s best year as a Bison came as a sophomore in 2016 when he was unanimously voted the ASUN’s Pitcher of the Year and named a Louisville Slugger Third Team All-American. He dominated his opponents as the anchor of the rotation and tossed his way to a 9-2 record and a 2.93 ERA. In his 15 starts, Lipscomb was 13-2 and the righty did not lose a decision over his last eight starts.
Not only did he lead the league in wins, he was also tops in strikeouts (101), innings (107.2) and four weekly honors.
In his freshman campaign, Puckett worked his way from a relief role to a weekend starter. His biggest win of the season came against the defending national champion Vanderbilt, 3-1, when he threw 7.1 innings while only allowing one run on five hits and punching out six Commodores.
He went on to appear in 15 games with 11 starts, where he compiled a 7-3 ledger with a 4.54 ERA. He struck out 45 batters in 79.1 innings.
Before signing with Lipscomb, Puckett was originally drafted by the New York Mets in the 33rd round of the 2014 MLB Draft, becoming just the third Riverdale High School player ever drafted at that time.
“I’m so proud of Jeffrey and excited to see him get a chance with the Cubs,” said Forehand. “He has worked so hard for this opportunity and we all know he will take advantage of it.”
The Fort Myers, Florida native has arguably been one of Lipscomb’s best pitchers over the last three seasons. In 46 career appearances, Passantino had a 15-9 record with a 3.10 ERA in 261 innings pitched.
“He has been such a great pitcher for us and there is no reason that he won’t continue to succeed in pro ball,” Forehand said. “He’s one of the best pitchers I’ve ever coached.”
In 2017, Passantino demonstrated outstanding control with a 10.56 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which was the second-best in the nation behind Auburn’s Casey Mize. Passantino collected 241 career punch outs and issued just 35 free passes during his time as a Bison.
Among Passantino’s many honors is the B.F.C. Whitehouse Award, which is given to the most outstanding pitcher in the Cape Cod League. Passantino earned that distinction when he went 6-0 and had a 0.64 ERA with 55 strikeouts and only five walks while playing for the Falmouth Commodores last summer.
He was also named ASUN Second Team All-Conference in both 2015 and 2017, while earning ASUN Pitcher of the Week on three different occasions during his career.
As a freshman in 2015, Passantino burst onto the scene by going 5-1 with a 2.69 ERA, the second-lowest on the team. His efforts led him to being named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, while also being selected to the ASUN All-Freshmen Team.
Passantino continued to show his pitching prowess by going 6-5 with a 3.40 ERA as a sophomore in 2016, before dominating the Cape Cod League later that summer. His 82 strikeouts in 2016 were tied for third-most in the ASUN.
The Bishop Verot High School graduate turned in a stellar junior campaign in 2017, finishing with a 4-2 record and a 3.09 ERA. Passantino delivered 10 quality starts and matched his career high of 10 strikeouts against Illinois State, Evansville and Mississippi Valley State.