Seventeen former Gator baseball players returned to McKethan Stadium Saturday night to play in the Alumni Scrimmage. A few others were also on hand to support their former school and teammates before gearing up for the 2018 MLB season and heading down to Spring Training.
Current St. Louis Cardinal Harrison Bader was one alumnus in attendance. During his time at Florida, Bader was an impact player who received several honors. He was just the 11th player in school history to record 20+ home runs, 100+ RBI and 30+ steals over his career.
Bader made his MLB debut on July 25, 2017 in a game where he scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth after doubling to lead off the inning for his first major league hit. It was an exciting debut that Bader says was a very special moment for him and his family.
With Spring Training being right around the corner, Bader chose not to participate in the alumni game but still wanted to come back to show his support for the program.
“I spent three years here and put a lot of work in, so to kind of come back, means a lot. A lot of familiar faces and some new faces, so it’s great to be here,” said Bader.
Bader says he’s eager to get this season started and let his hard work during the off season translate to the field. He will report to the Cardinals’ camp in Jupiter on Feb. 18. The team’s first game will be on Feb. 23 against the Miami Marlins.
Last season’s Friday night starter Alex Faedo was also in attendance for the Alumni Scrimmage.
After a decorated collegiate career and leading the 2017 Gators to the program’s first national championship, Faedo was drafted 18th overall by the Detroit Tigers in the 2017 MLB Draft.
Due to a Tigers team policy, Faedo couldn’t play in the scrimmage but made sure he was there to show his support for the alumni and the current team.
Faedo isn’t on the MLB roster yet but will still be at spring training with the club as a non-roster invitee. He says all he has done since the College World Series is throw a couple bullpens, so he’s looking forward to finally getting out and gaining some real game experience.
Faedo says he’s excited to be able to join the major league squad in spring training.
Faedo will report to Detroit’s facility in Lakeland on Feb. 13. The team will face the New York Yankees on Feb. 23 for its first game.
Other former Gators who were in attendance at the alumni game and will be going to spring training this season are Justin Shafer, who played in the game, and Austin Maddox.
Maddox, a righthander, made his big league debut last year with the Boston Red Sox and is currently on their active roster. He made his debut on June 17, 2017 and appeared in 13 games throughout the remainder of the season, finishing with a 0.52 ERA.
Shafer, who pitched and played outfield in his Gator career, is now a full time pitcher. He will travel to Dunedin to play with the Toronto Blue Jays as a non-roster invitee. He appeared in 44 games and went 5-2 with a 2.90 ERA last season in the minors.
On February 23rd, Boston will begin its spring training schedule against the Twins while Toronto will take on the Phillies.