The odds of making a Major League Baseball roster coming out of college are miniscule.
About 1,200 players are drafted in the 40 rounds of the MLB Draft. To put that into perspective, each major league team holds an active roster of just 25 players at one time. The amount of players in MLB on any given day, regardless of roster changes, is 750.
Of all the UF players who have touched the diamond in orange and blue, only 70 have gone on to fulfill their dreams of making it to the bigs.
Despite the long odds, there is still a strong Florida presence in the majors.
On Opening Day of 2019, seven former Gators suited up for a Major League Baseball team. Those players were rookies Pete Alonso (Mets) and Richie Martin (Orioles), along with veterans Harrison Bader (Cardinals), Mike Zunino (Rays), Anthony DeSclafani (Reds), Brian Johnson (Red Sox) and Darren O’Day (Braves). Some players have been sent up and down during that time, while others have stuck around.
Alonso, a first baseman, has gotten off to a hot start in his first year in the majors. After playing for Florida from 2014-2016, Alonso was drafted by the New York Mets in the second round with the 64th pick. Alonso quickly developed into a feared power hitter in the Mets system, smashing 36 minor league home runs in 2018. Since opening day, Alonso leads all rookies in home runs (19), RBIs (44), hits (56) and games played (58). He won April Rookie of the Month, and is currently third in the majors in home runs and ninth in RBIs.
As for the veteran players, Harrison Bader is starting to come into his own. Bader, who played at UF from 2013-2015, is now in his third year with the St. Louis Cardinals. He has five home runs, a .343 OBP and 14 RBIs as a center fielder.
Long-time MLB catcher Mike Zunino is now in his seventh year in the bigs and is currently with the Tampa Bay Rays. He played for the Gators from 2010-2012 and was drafted 3rd overall by Seattle in the 2012 draft. Zunino has never hit for average, but he has always provided a solid backstop for pitchers and power at the plate. He has three home runs this year and 98 in his career.
Pitcher Anthony DeSclafani played for Florida from 2009-2011 before being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. He made his debut for Miami in 2014 and has been with the Reds since 2015. He has a 2-3 record with a 4.97 ERA in 11 starts this year.
Richie Martin, the second Florida rookie, was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 2015. The infielder played for Florida from 2013-2015. Now with the Orioles, Martin is primarily a bench player. This season, he has a .161 batting average and four RBIs.
Brian Johnson (2010-2012) has since been sent down by the Red Sox after Opening Day, and Darren O’Day (2003-2006) has been on the Injured List all season.
The only Gator to receive a call-up mid-season is Giants rookie Shaun Anderson, the 70th Gator to make it to MLB. He earned his first career win on Saturday in an 8-2 win against the Baltimore Orioles. He has a 1-1 record with a 4.09 ERA in four appearances.
Follow Dylan O'Shea on Twitter @dylanoshea24. Contact him at [email protected].