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Junior college pitcher weighing Bulls, draft

IMG Academy/Kit Carlson
IMG Academy alumnus Casey Mulholland has much to consider between the MLB Draft and playing for the USF Bulls

The MLB draft is an annual concern for college baseball programs each June, and while USF could lose juniors James Ramsay and Nick Gonzalez to the allure of pro baseball, another name to watch during the draft is Casey Mulholland, a junior college right-hander from Bradenton who signed with the Bulls earlier this month.

Mulholland, 21, has good size at 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, and he's drawing pro interest, with a workout scheduled for Thursday with the Rays. He went 3-0 with a 2.94 ERA this spring at State College of Florida, striking out 52 batters in 52 innings.

"I'm excited to see what happens. I know God has a plan for me. Whether I end up at USF next year or in the draft, either one is going to be a good route for me," said Mulholland, who chose USF over schools like South Carolina and Old Dominion.

Mulholland attended the prestigious IMG Academy in Bradenton and went 37-1 in his high school career, but wasn't drafted as he underwent Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow during his senior year. He signed with Mississippi and pitched sparingly as a freshman in 2012, going 0-2 with a 4.22 ERA in eight relief appearances.

"I've learned now that once you get to the D-I level, everybody has a good arm, everybody can play," he said. "My plan is to step in, work hard and hopefully have good news in the spring. ... I think it's going to be a great place for me."

Mulholland has strong USF ties -- he worked with Bulls pitching coach Lance Carter while he was at IMG, and both of his parents are USF graduates. He's also friends with USF football walk-on tight end Jake Carlton, who went to nearby Lakewood Ranch High. He attended USF's final home series against Rutgers and watched the Bulls play in the Big East tournament in Clearwater.

USF has another junior college pitcher that signed with the Bulls this spring but could be drafted in Ryan Etsell, a 6-5, 190-pound right-hander from Hillsborough Community College. Etsell had strong numbers as an HCC sophomore -- 6-3 with a 1.69 ERA, with an outstanding ratio of 97 strikeouts against only nine walks. Etsell made Baseball America's list of the top 500 draft prospects nationally, checking in at No. 445, which translates to roughly the 14th round of the draft.

Landing either Mulholland or Etsell would greatly help the Bulls, who will return the Big East's Rookie of the Year in rising sophomore Jimmy Herget. USF's other weekend starters were senior Joey Lovecchio and Gonzalez, who is draft-eligible as a junior.

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