Tuesday April 2, 2013Five Former Gator Baseball Players On MLB Opening Day Rosters
Five former University of Florida baseball players appear on Major League Baseball Opening Day rosters as the 2013 season kicked off on Monday. Infielder Mark Ellis (Los Angeles Dodgers, 1996-99), right-hander Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles, 2003-06), infielder Ryan Raburn (Cleveland Indians, 2000), left-hander Steven Rodriguez (Los Angeles Dodgers, 2010-12) and catcher David Ross (Boston Red Sox, 1998) opened the campaign on the 25-man roster for their respective clubs. In addition, left-hander Nick Maronde (2009-11) is on the 40-man roster for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
A four-year letterwinner at UF who was part of two SEC Championships and two trips to the NCAA College World Series in 1996 & 1998, Ellis begins his 11th season in the Majors. He batted .258 with 62 runs, 40 walks, 31 RBI, 21 doubles and seven homers for the Dodgers last season.
Ellis still remains among the top-10 on several of the school’s all-time charts: first in runs scored (240), second in at bats (941), total bases (500), hits (319) and doubles (61), fifth in fielding assists (624), seventh in sacrifice bunts (20), tied for seventh in games started (211) and homers (36), eighth in RBI (164) and stolen bases (56), tied for ninth in sacrifice flies (12) and 10th in games played (224). He was the NCAA South I Regional Most Valuable Player in 1998.
O’Day appeared in 69 games for Baltimore during the regular season last year after being a member of the Texas Rangers’ pitching staff from 2009-11. The right-hander was 7-1 with a 2.28 earned run average and registered 69 strikeouts in 67 innings of action. Opponents batted just .202 against him.
The reliever ranks third in appearances (117), fourth in saves (20) and tied for eighth in victories (23) on the Gator career pitching lists. Not only did he pace the team in lowest ERA three-consecutive seasons, O'Day was the Orange and Blue's leader in saves during two of his last three campaigns, highlighted by the 2005 SEC title and a runner-up showing at that season’s NCAA College World Series. A finalist for the prestigious H. Boyd McWhorter SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award in 2006, he was also a member of the SEC Good Works Team and was chosen to the league's Academic Honor Roll on three occasions.
In addition, O'Day was named to the 2006 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America University Division Baseball team as chosen by members of CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America). A third-team honoree, the Jacksonville native became the fourth Gator to earn Academic All-America acclaim, joining Fred Bretz (1970), Ray Hull (1972) and David Eckstein (1996, 1997). O'Day was also the initial Florida baseball player to earn Academic All-District III recognition three years in a row.
Raburn saw action in 66 games for the Detroit Tigers last year, had 14 doubles, scored 14 runs and had a .171 clip. He was a member of the 2000 Gator squad that was the runner-up at the NCAA Waco (Texas) Regional.
After being called up to the Dodgers last September, Rodriguez appeared in 11 games and was 0-1 with a 1.35 ERA in 6.2 innings. A 2012 All-American by Perfect Game and a first-team All-SEC pick, the left-hander became the first Gator reliever to earn All-SEC accolades since Kevin Chapman was recognized in 2010. Rodriguez had a 3-2 record in 34 appearances and paced UF’s pitching corps with 81 strikeouts in 62 innings. He registered a 2.18 ERA, notched four saves and limited opponents to a .211 batting average.
Over his three-year career in Gainesville, Rodriguez made three-straight trips to the NCAA College World Series, captured back-to-back SEC titles in 2010 and 2011, compiled a record of 9-4 (.692), totaled seven saves and registered a 2.19 ERA in 86 appearances (seventh on the school’s career list) and two starts. Rodriguez’s career ERA is the lowest by a Gator pitcher since aluminum bats were introduced in 1974 and his total of 10.64 strikeouts per nine innings ranks No.1. He notched 151 strikeouts and allowed 30 walks in 127.2 innings, while holding opponents to a .227 performance, tied for the ninth-lowest by a UF hurler.
Now in his 12th Major League season and a member of the Boston Red Sox, Ross played in 62 games last year for the Atlanta Braves and hit .256 with 23 RBI, 18 runs, nine homers and seven doubles. He batted .332 with 69 RBI, 21 doubles and 19 round-trippers in helping the Gators to the 1998 SEC Championship and a berth at that season’s College World Series.
Called up by the Angels last September, Maronde saw action in 12
games and was 0-0 with a 1.50 ERA and had seven strikeouts and zero walks in
six innings. Over 79 career appearances at Florida, including 12 starts, the
lefty was 5-2 with a 3.99 ERA and four saves and had 151 strikeouts in 130.2 innings.
UF’s leader with 36 appearances in 2011, the southpaw was 0-1 and registered a
2.09 ERA as the Gators shared the SEC title and finished as the runner-up at
the CWS. In 43 innings, Maronde totaled 55 strikeouts, issued nine walks,
collected a pair of saves and was part of five shutouts. In addition, he
limited opponents to a team-low .178 average, including a .086 performance with
runners on base.