FUN FACT! The 2010 Florida Gators squad made SEC history this month when Austin Maddox got the call from the Boston Red Sox. Maddox was the tenth player from the 2010 Gators’ roster to get a call up to the big leagues.
John Sickels wrote up a detailed report on Maddox for his big league debut. If your curious about the most recent Gator to make the bigs, it’s certainly worth a read.
TRIVIA TIME! Who are the Florida Ten?
Mike Zunino was one of the big bats of skipper Kevin O’Sullivan’s run that saw three straight trips to the NCAA postseason. The big hitting catcher won the Golden Spikes Award two years later when he hit .322 with 28 doubles and 19 home runs. The Seattle Mariners selected him third overall that 2012 season and he had well documented struggles after being rushed to the big leagues. The past month, however, has seen Zunino hit like many expected he would.
Maddox joins Brian Johnson in Boston with the big league club. Johnson split his time between the rotation and first base on that Gators’ three-year run. The Red Sox made Johnson a full-time pitcher when they selected him with the final pick of the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft. Johnson also has had his struggles, not all baseball related. Now on the disabled list, he appears to be heading in the right direction.
Speaking of disabled list, Anthony DeSclafani was part of that Gators 2010 team. He split his time between the rotation and bullpen, before being primarily a reliever in his final season. The Cincinnati Reds took DeSclafani in the sixth round of the 2011 MLB Draft and shifted him into the rotation. He showed improvement from 2015 to 2016 in the majors, but hasn’t thrown a pitch in 2017, currently on the 60-day DL with a sprained UCL.
Speaking of elbows, Paco Rodriguez was spotted in Omaha watching his Gators after a showcase for the Kansas City Royals. Rodriguez was electric out of the bullpen from 2010-12 for the Gators, and the Los Angeles Dodgers took him in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft. Rodriguez wasn't bad at all in four MLB stints for the Dodgers, but was then traded to the Atlanta Braves in the Hector Olivera deal. He blew out his elbow and was released by the Braves this spring training. He hasn’t thrown a pitch since 2015, but just 26 and with MLB experience, he should find a home.
Preston Tucker was on those teams as well. Tucker played all four years at Florida, hitting for average (.329 career lick) and home runs (57). The Houston Astros took Tucker in the seventh round of the 2012 MLB Draft. He had back-to-back big minor league seasons in 2013 and 2014, making it all the way to Triple-A behind strong numbers. He’s had two brief stints in the bigs, and despite showing power, he has struggled to hit consistently.
Matt den Dekker was another four-year outfielder from that squad. den Dekker had a monster senior season, hitting .352 with 13 home runs, crushing his career-bests. He turned that into a fifth round draft selection by the New York Mets. He has since floated around the minors, getting stints in the bigs with both the Mets and Washington Nationals. He’s currently with the Toledo Mud Hens in the Detroit Tigers organization.
Left-handed reliever Kevin Chapman logged 11 saves behind a 1.65 ERA for the 2010 Gators and was drafted by the Royals in the fourth round of the same year. He made the bigs with the Astros and was decent in his first year, but struggled in small doses since. He made a pit stop with the Braves this preseason before latching on with the Minnesota Twins in Triple-A.
Nolan Fontana and Nick Maronde round out the list. Before they took Tucker in 2012, the Astros took Fontana in the second round. Fontana was an on base machine in his three years with the Gators, hitting .287 with 17 home runs over his collegiate career. He made a quick big league debut this season with the Los Angeles Angels, but is back in Salt Lake with the Bees.
Maronde was another solid arm out of O’Sullivan’s bullpen. The lefty was a third rounder by the Angels in 2011 MLB Draft. He had an impressive — albeit short — MLB debut the following season, and made appearances over the next few seasons. He’s floated around the minors the past few seasons, currently pitching with the New Orleans Baby Cakes.
Kevin O’Sullivan may be still searching for that elusive national title, but he certainly has shown a knack for scouting big league talent. You can expect more Gators in the big leagues in the near future, but 10 from one team? That’s pretty incredible.