Florida Tech Baseball Players in MLB and Who Could be the Next Big Talent?
By Space Coast Daily // July 7, 2021
The Florida Tech Panthers have a rich history of nurturing high-quality baseball players that then go on and thrive in the MLB. No less than nine graduates have made the step up to the big league and eight of them have done so during the last 15 years.
While there aren’t currently any players from Florida Tech in the MLB, fans of the team will no doubt be watching the 2021 season, which got underway in early April and will conclude in November.
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Moving back to Florida Tech, by far the most successful graduate is Timothy Wakefield who played for 26 years in the MLB after being drafted in round eight by the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 1998. Wakefield’s success was not a surprise as he was named MVP for the Panthers in both sophomore and junior years as first baseman and smashed 22 home runs during a single season, which is still a record.
It was after getting drafted that Wakefield began working on his famous knuckleball pitch. He said this was driven by his desire to try “everything I could to make it.” After making his MLB debut for the Pirates several years later in 1992, Wakefield moved to Boston Red Sox in 1995 in what would be a memorable move for both parties.
Wakefield spent 16 years at Boston and went on to win the coveted World Series in 2004 and 2007 before he made his final pitch in late 2011 against the Toronto Blue Jays. He left behind an enviable record including the most all-time innings pitched for the Red Sox with 3,007 and 97 wins at Fenway Park, second only to Roger Clemens.
While Wakefield’s achievements are unmatched for Florida Tech selections, there has been a glut of MLB drafts in recent years with many going on to make a mark for respective teams. Austin Allen was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2015, though he didn’t make his first MLB appearance until four years later following stints with lower league teams, Tri-City Dust Devils, and Lake Elsinore Storm.
Allen was then traded to Oakland Athletics for the 2020 season and hit his first home run in the MLB later that year against the Texas Rangers. While his primary role is a catcher, Allen has shown skills with the bat. His current batting average is 208.
The latest player to be drafted from Florida Tech, Ty Cohen, did not have a successful transition to the MLB, even though there is still time for him to kick start his career. Cohen was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in round 31 in 2018 but was released later that year without having made an appearance in the big league.
Six other players have been selected by MLB teams since the start of the annual draft back in 1965. Jonathan Baksh was the first for 18 years when he followed Tim Wakefield to be drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2006. That was also the destination for Steven Condotta when he was drafted in the twelfth round in 2008.
Draft selections really picked up pace between 2011 and 2013 with four players making the move. Jonathan Cornelius went to the Cardinals while Steven Schils and K.C. Clabough both went to the Atlanta Braves. Scott Carcaise rounded out the selections when he was drafted by the Miami Marlins in 2013 in the fourteenth round.
Austin Allen still holds the record for being drafted the earliest, but Wakefield remains the most successful Florida Tech alumni following his exceptional exploits over two decades with the Red Sox. Wakefield finally received the Roberto Clemente Award in 2010 after being nominated seven times previously.
While Wakefield leads the way in terms of achievements, up-and-coming players could yet make a bigger mark on the MLB in the future. Florida Tech’s current crop of youngsters continues to impress after they enjoyed a great end to the 2021 regular season after defeating Palm Beach Atlantic to close with a 17-10 record.
Daniel Vassallo thrived during his freshman year, and he was one of the stars in the final win again as he threw three shutout innings to keep PBA pegged back. Paul Castillo, Brett Parish, and Raul Quintero are also among a talented group that could be next off the production line.