In so many close games, the Florida Gators needed somebody to shut the door. That role for the past two seasons fell on the shoulders of Michael Byrne. Thanks to Byrne, Florida came out on top in many of those contests.
However, UF will have to find a new hurler to take the reigns from Byrne next season. Michael Byrne, Florida’s former closer, will forgo his senior at to go professional along with teammate Jonathan India.
Byrne, who was drafted in the 14th round in June’s 2018 MLB Draft, signed his major league contract with the Cincinnati Reds. His contract includes a $260,000 bonus.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) July 3, 2018
A Look at Bryne’s Gator Career
Michael Byrne has been a key part in Florida’s success in his three seasons as a Gator. After a limited role in the bullpen as a freshman, Byrne became the Florida closer his sophomore year.
Byrne took advantage of his increased role, breaking UF’s save record with a nation-leading 19 saves. He posted a 1.67 earned run average on the season and recorded three saves in the 2017 College World Series for the eventual national champions.
As a junior, Byrne continued to succeed as the closer, totaling a SEC-high 16 saves and becoming the Gators’ all-time leader in career saves. Byrne’s success again played a huge role for the baseball team, as he helped the Gators make it to the College World Series for the fourth year in a row.
Overall, Byrne’s impact goes beyond the Gators, as he was considered one of the game’s best pitchers in the nation.
Byrne ended his Gator career with multiple All-American recognitions, a national championship ring and the 2018 NCBWA Stopper of the Year, which is given to the nation’s best relief pitcher.
When asked about his experience in Gainesville, Byrne seemed very grateful about his time as a Gator.
Why He Chose the Pros
Many had believed that Byrne would return to Florida for his senior year and possibly join the starting rotation. However, the opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream proved to be too much.
Byrne is expected to join Cincinnati’s Class-A Advanced team in Daytona as a reliever later this month. However, he could be part of the starting rotation in the minors by next season.