According to Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times, Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Dan Otero was the first ever USF baseball alumnus to reach the World Series. Since 1967, the Bulls have played baseball and not once before Otero had a Bulls player made the Fall Classic.
In the program’s history, there have been 17 players make the Major Leagues and 132 in professional baseball. There are currently only two Major Leaguers: Otero and Kevin Quackenbush of the San Diego Padres.
College baseball lives in an interesting niche. Local layers good enough to be drafted skip the college level and go directly to the minor leagues – Jose Fernandez and Dwight Gooden come to mind – and the best college players tend to go to the schools with the more success such as Florida State or University of Florida.
Having players make the news for positive accomplishments in their sport can help the popularity of USF baseball. Winning programs develop athletes who tend to do better at the professional level. When that happens, recruits notice and want to be part of the success. Recruits are attracted to and cause more buzz, which leads to more campus interest and higher attendance. Buzz also leads to more booster dollars which leads to better facilities which increases buzz even more.
I’m not saying all this will happen because a well-traveled middle reliever pitched a few innings in the World Series, but it’s a start. If the Indians win the World Series, perhaps Otero can bring his ring back to USF to show the current Bulls roster.
While the Tampa area is known for so many quality baseball players through the years, it’s good to see the local university getting some baseball recognition.