Spartans Send-off Seven to the MLB

Spartans Send-off Seven to the MLB

TAMPA, Fla. - After three highly anticipated days, 40 rounds, and 1,215 picks, the 2017 MLB Draft has come to a close. The University of Tampa baseball program had a total of seven players selected by the 30 organizations, as well as two signees. This is the most Tampa has had drafted since 2010 when nine players were selected. 

On the second day of the draft, RHP Garrett Cave was selected along with two UT signees in Freddy Tarnok and Jose Caballero. 

Today, the first Spartan off the board was senior shortstop Kevin Santa who was selected in the 19th round by the Seattle Mariners. Santa is coming off of a successful season with the Spartans after being named a CCA second-team All-American, a First team All-Sunshine State Conference selection, a D2CCA first-team all-South Region selection, and an NCBWA first team all-South Region selection. He recorded a .429 batting average which places him in first on the Tampa All-Time ranking list for highest batting average. He finished his Spartan career tied for third for the All-time highest on-base percentage with .502 and was listed second on the 2016-2017 NCAA National Rankings for runs with 75. 

The second Spartan to have his name called was J.D. Osborne in the 22nd round by the Miami Marlins. The Ontario native had a stellar season for the Spartans as he was selected to the First Team All-Sunshine State Conference, the ABCA First Team All-South Region, the D2CCA Second Team All-South Region and the NCBWA Second Team All-South Region. He notched a .387 batting average and a .743 slugging percentage. He launched a team-leading 20 home runs and 86 RBI. He earned third place on the Tampa Single-Season All-Time rankings for RBI with 86 and first on the 2016-2017 NCAA National Rankings for runs batted in per game with 1.62.

Adrian Chacon was drafted in the 23rd round by the Cincinnati Reds after overcoming a back injury he suffered at UNC. He transferred to UT and played first base and catcher for the Spartans. In his senior campaign, he played in 22 games compiling a .293 batting average before suffering what most thought was a season ending injury. The Tampa native promised the coaches he would make it back on the diamond before the season ended. Sure enough, through perseverance and rehabilitation, the senior made a comeback and finished the season on the mound as an RHP topping off at 96 mph. 

Another pitcher was selected from the Spartans roster when the Milwaukee Brewers drafted Cody Martin in the 27th round. Martin appeared 19 times on the mound and posted a 3-2 record with one save while pitching 29.1 innings and striking out 37 batters.

Senior second baseman Laz Rivera was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 28th round. The Miami native was named to the second-team All-Sunshine State Conference team and the 2017 NCBWA Division II Preseason All-South Region First Team. He recorded a .355 batting average as he racked up 71 hits, including eight doubles, two triple, and four home runs. 

The last Spartan on his way to professional baseball is utility player Ricky Negron. He was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 34th round. The New York native was known to be the power hitter for the Spartans, often used off the bench as a power bat as he notched a .537 slugging percentage and tallied 20 RBI. He had a career batting average of .254 while roping four doubles and five home runs. 

Seven drafted athletes are the most Tampa has had since 2010 when nine Spartans were selected. Tino Martinez is among the many Spartans drafted as he was selected in the first round by the Seattle Mariners in 1988. 

The only four-year schools in Florida with more than 7 draftees were Florida State and the University of Florida. Following are the Florida schools by the number of 2017 draftees:

Florida State University - 9
University of Florida - 8
University of Tampa - 7
University of South Florida - 4
Florida International University - 4
Florida Gulf Coast University - 3
Nova Southeastern University - 3
Florida Southern College - 3
University of Central Florida - 2
University of Miami - 2
Florida Atlantic University - 1
Lynn University - 1
Rollins College - 1
Saint Leo University - 1
Florida Tech - 1

These draft results stand testament to the success of the University of Tampa baseball program. 2017 marks the 15th consecutive year with at least one draft selection for the Spartans. After another successful draft, Head Coach Joe Urso expressed that, "We take a lot of pride in the development of our players here at the University of Tampa and are so excited to have seven guys selected in one year, most of which are being drafted for the first time in their career."