As the opening week of the 2021 MLB season approaches a close, fans find themselves immersed in America’s favorite pastime once again.
This year, the April 1 Opening Day rosters included nine former Gators. Two members of the 2017 National Champion team, a Home Run Derby Champion and Rookie of the Year, a catcher playing close to home and a handful of pitchers round out the list.
Here’s a look at the nine Gators who made it to the show.
The former Gator National Championship third baseman joins the big league roster for the Cincinnati Reds in 2021 for. India was drafted as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.
India was named the starting second baseman in the Reds’ season opener against the Cardinals Thursday, April 1. In his first week as a big leaguer, India racked up 10 hits in 31 at-bats with 10 RBIs.
Singer, another member of the 2017 National Champion team, was entered the Kansas City Royals as the No. 18 overall pick in 2018. The right-handed pitcher made his major league debut in July 2020.
In his first year in the MLB, Singer earned a 4-5 record with a 4.06 ERA over 64.1 innings pitched. Singer’s rookie season looked good with a 26-34 team record. He has made one appearance so far in 2021. He gave up five hits and five runs and dealt five strikeouts over 3.1 innings pitched.
Another Gator household name, Alonso created a stir early into his MLB career. The first baseman was a second-round draft pick in 2016 and made his debut for the New York Mets in 2019.
In his rookie season, Alonso was branded the National League Rookie of the Year. That same season, he also won the Home Run Derby. , Alonso racked up 69 home runs, 203 hits and 155 RBIs over his two seasons in the MLB.
This season, Alonso already made history. On April 6, he became the fastest player in the MLB to reach 70 home runs.
Dunning left Florida in 2016 as the No. 29 overall draft pick for the Washington Nationals. However, the right-hander made his major league debut with the Chicago White Sox in 2020.
Last season, Dunning posted a 2-0 record with a 3.97 ERA and 35 strikeouts. In the offseason, Dunning was traded to the Texas Rangers. He made his first start with the Rangers on April 6. He earned the win, and gave up just three hits and one run over five innings.
Another member of the Gators’ 2016 draft class, Puk was the No. 6 overall pick, taken by the Oakland Athletics. He made his major league debut in August 2019. That season, he posted a 2-0 record with a 3.18 ERA and 13 strikeouts.
The left-handed pitcher suffered an arm injury in 2020 that took him out for the season. He’s expected to make a comeback this year. So far this season, Puk gave up no runs and just one hit in his 3.1 innings pitched.
The former Gators outfielder left Gainesville as a St Louis Cardinals third-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. Bader made his major league debut in July 2017, but his first full-season debut in 2019.
In his career for the Cardinals, Bader racked up 215 hits, 31 home runs and 97 RBIs. He starts this season on the injured list due to a forearm injury incurred in spring training.
Zunino is one of the Gators’ highest draft picks, ever. In 2012, the Seattle Mariners took the catcher as the No. 3 overall pick. He made his debut in 2013 and spent six seasons with the Mariners.
However, he returned to the Sunshine State in 2019 as the Tampa Bay Rays’ starting catcher. Zunino was the only Gator in last year’s World Series and served as the Rays’ starter behind the plate. So far this season, Zunino is 2-13 with a home run and two RBIs.
One of the older Gators in the majors this season, DeSclafani was a sixth-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. The Toronto Blue Jays claimed him, but he has since bounced around the league. The right-handed pitcher made his debut in 2014 for the Miami Marlins.
Traded in 2015, DeSclafani made 31 starts for the Reds. However, the right-hander now resides with the San Francisco Giants after injuries. In his first start this season, DeSclafani gave up four hits and one run in his five-inning no decision outing.
The oldest Gator in the major leagues, O’Day used all four years of eligibility before he left Florida. He left as an undrafted free agent in 2006 after he signed a deal with the Los Angeles Angels. The submarine right-hander made his major league debut with the Angels in 2008.
Since then, O’Day joined the rosters of six other professional teams. The right-hander starts the 2021 season on the New York Yankees’ roster. So far this season, he pitched 2.2 innings with no earned runs.
Contact Sara Kate Dyson at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @sarakatedyson