After fall and winter workouts by many at the UCF baseball complex, and Opening Day in the books, it's time to take a look at where former Knights are starting spring in the professional ranks.
With 16 players currently active spread out all over the nation representing the Black & Gold, let's start with the class of 2012 that has made some early noise already in the 2013 campaign.
In summer ball where he moved up from rookie to Class-A in just a few weeks after being drafted in the 13th round by the LA Dodgers, shortstop Darnell Sweeney has already made his presence felt at High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Sunday afternoon, Sweeney came through with a walk-off single in the 10th to give the Quakes the victory (Read HERE).
Fresh off of his walk-off grand slam that gave the Elizabethton Twins the Appalachian League title, D.J. Hicks didn't wait long to go yard again, smacking a solo shot on Opening Day. He already has a pair of multi-hit games and is batting .389 early on.
Perhaps the best 1-2 combo to finish games in the 2012 collegiate season is at it again. Roman Madrid is currently with Class-A Fort Wayne (check out that logo) and has registered a save already. All-time saves leader in UCF history Joe Rogers has also made two appearances for High-A Lakeland. The current location for the southpaw is particularly ideal for friends and family to watch him pitch as he is a native of Winter Haven, just 16 miles from Lakeland.
The 2011 draft class is also off to a solid start this spring, led by big-bopping first baseman Jon Griffin. The 6-foot-6 righty received a non-roster invitation to Big League Spring Training this year with the Diamondbacks and is already raking at AA Mobile to the tune of nine base-knocks (.500), three RBI and three multi-hit games.
Right-handed pitcher Danny Winkler also made a strong start in 2013. He begins the year with the High-A Modesto Nuts (great name & logo) and came away a winner in his first start, tossing 5 2/3 frames while allowing just one run on four hits with six strikeouts. He was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 20th round of the 2011 MLB draft.
For news and numbers on the rest of the Knights in the pros, make sure to click on their names below to see their MiLB pages with up-to-date stats after each game.
Shane Brown - AA Trenton Thunder
Drew Butera - AAA Rochester Red Wngs
Jonathan Griffin - AA Mobile BayBears
D.J. Hicks - Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Darnell Sweeney - Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Ronnie Richardson - Class A Short-Season Eugene Emeralds (2012)
Beau Taylor - AA Midland RockHounds
Tim Bascom - AA Bowie Baysox
Chase Bradford - Class A Advanced St. Lucie Mets
Matt Collins - Rookie Arizona League Angels (2012)
Owen Dew - Class A Advanced Carolina Mudcats
Caleb Graham - Class A Advanced Inland Empire 66ers
Robert Lara - Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore Storm
Roman Madrid - Class A Fort Wayne TinCaps
Joe Rogers - Class A Advanced Lakeland Flying Tigers
Danny Winkler - Class A Advanced Modesto Nuts