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CU’s Veras, MJ’s Gross drafted on final day

Andy Reed areed@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:38 PM

A couple of infielders with Wilson County connections were taken Saturday on the final day of the Major League Baseball amateur draft.

Former Mt. Juliet High shortstop Ethan Gross was taken in the 26th round, No. 768 overall, by the Chicago White Sox out of the University of Memphis.

Josciel Veras was the only player from the NAIA champion Cumberland Bulldogs drafted when the Cincinnati Reds called his name in the 30th round, 905th overall.

Both players are seniors who have exhausted their collegiate eligibility.

In all, 1,215 players were chosen over 40 rounds in the three-day draft.

Veras batted .299 in 58 games with four homers, 39 runs batted in. He had a good season as a junior at second base after transferring from a Florida junior college. The Dominican Republic was moved to shortstop this year to allow Sam Lind, who was injured in 2013, to play second.

Though Veras was drafted as a shortstop, he struggled at the position early this spring for Cumberland.

“He struggled there,” Cumberland coach Woody Hunt said of Veras’ time at short. “He played great defense at second base last year and I really hated taking him out of there. But we had to put him at short because Sam was there.”

But Veras injured his shoulder, prompting Hunt to move Tyler Anderson from third base to short [where he was just awarded a Gold Glove] and Ricky Coleman to third, solidifying Cumberland’s infield defense for what turned out to be an unexpected national championship run.

When Veras returned to the lineup three weeks later, it was as the designated hitter. He played through a knee injury sustained during the Mid-South Conference tournament last month.

“He was very good hitting with a bad leg,” Hunt said.

Gross batted .267 in 59 games for Memphis this spring with 21 RBI. A .255 hitter for his Tigers career, he started 217 of his school-record 225 games, including 213 straight starts.

He led Mt. Juliet to three state tournaments, including the 2009 runner-up finish. The Golden Bears went 133-43 during his four seasons with two Region 5-AAA championships and four District 9-AAA pennants. He batted over .400 with 14 homers and 114 RBI in high school.

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