Baseball players come in all shapes and sizes, from all over the world, and from all walks of life. When looking at the rosters around the big leagues you see players from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Young teenagers signed as international free agents or professional veterans with experience in the Japan, Cuba, or Japan penned to free agent deals. Eighteen year-old high schoolers taken in the June amature draft.
But as a guy that works in college athletics, what interests me the most are the players who spent time on campus honing their trade before taking their talents to the professional ranks. Taking a peek at the current Orioles' roster shows almost half of the current squad appeared in some sort of college games before turning pro.
Below is a recap of each of the Orioles on the current roster that played college ball:
Ryan Flaherty - Vanderbilt University - 2006-08
2007 Second Team All-American
2006 Honorable Mention Freshman All-American
A native of Deerborne, Maine Ryan Flaherty was a highly touted high school product, ranked as the 141st high-school prospect in the country in the class of 2005. Flaherty chose to attend Vanderbilt University where he was the Commodores starting shortstop. Flaherty made his mark with his glove and his bat. Flash hit a blistering .381 during his sophomore season that earned him Second Team All-American honors. Flaherty still owns the longest hitting streak in Vanderbilt history with a 38-game stretch that spanned between his sophomore and junior seasons.
As a junior, Flaherty clubbed a career-high 14 home runs while driving home 63 runs before being taken by the Chicago Cubs as the 41st pick in the 2008 draft.
Nolan Reimold - Bowling Green State University - 2003-2005
2005 Third Team All-American
2005 Mid-Atlantic Player of the Year
Before being taken by the Orioles in the second round of the 2005 draft, Nolan Reimold was a three-year starter for the Bowling Green Falcons. Reimold put together a stellar career including a number of remarkable single-game performances. In his junior season, Reimold tied a Bowling Green program record with eight RBIs in a game on May 13, 2005 against Toledo. He also tied a school record with three homers in a game on Mar. 16, 2005 against Findlay. In the beginning of May he also hit a home run in four-straight games. For his career, Nolan batted .366 with 35 home runs before making the jump to the professional ranks.
Brian Matusz - San Diego University - 2006-2008
2006 NCAA Division I Freshman First Team
2007 NCAA Division I Team
2008 First Team All-American
2008 NCAA Division I Pitcher of the Year
Brian Matusz holds the fourth-lowest ERA (1.71) in San Diego University history. Matusz struck out a Torero program record 16 batters in a single game on Mar. 22, 2008 against Harvard. Matusz is the all-time strike out leader in San Diego history with 397 whiffs. In addition to the all-time record, Matusz has two of the top four single season marks (163 K's in 2007 - 1st and 141 K's in 2008 - 4th). Across his 317.0 career innings and 45 starts on the mound, Matusz put together a 2.87 ERA and collected 26 wins at San Diego. In his final season in San Diego, 2008, Matsuz was named a First Team All-American and named the NCAA Division I Pitcher of the Year.
After Brian's junior season the Orioles selected him with the fourth pick in the 2008 draft to be a part of the calvary that would save the Orioles...
Chris Davis - Navarro College - 2005-2006
2006 Preseason JUCO All-American
2006 Region XIV East Zone Most Valuable Player
Records at Navarro are not the most complete, however it is clear that the Hulk started his home-run rampage early. Dravis smashed a Navarro program record 31 dingers in his two seasons in Corsicana, Tx. Crush also finished with 123 RBIs (program record) 29 doubles (T-2nd in program history), and also sits top-ten in hits (123 - 7th) and runs (95 - 4th) in Bulldogs history. In his second season at Navarro, Davis put up some impressive numbers (18 HR, 18 2B, and 72 RBIs) to help the Bulldogs claim a conference championship in 2006 before being selected by the Texas Rangers in the 5th round of the 2006 draft.
Joey Rickard - University of Arizona - 2010-2012
2010 Pac-10 Honorable Mention
2011 Pac-10 Conference Team
2012 Pac-12 Honorable Mention
The Las Vegas, Nev. native was a starter in the Wildcats outfield immediately after stepping foot on campus. Rickard was a three-year starter for Arizona in centerfield, batting .325 in 751 career at-bats. Rickard collected 244 base-hits including 36 doubles, seven triples, and 13 home runs. His sophomore campaign was Rickard's most successful season. He slashed .347/.410/.448 on his way to being named to the Pac-10 Conference Team. On his career, Rickard swiped 47 bags in 69 attempts. Rickard was selected in the ninth round of the 2012 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Pedro Alvarez - Vanderbilt University - 2006-2008
2006 National Freshman of the Year
2006 SEC Freshman of the Year
2007 First Team All-American
2007 First Team SEC
2008 Second Team All-Region
2008 First Team SEC
Pedro made an immediate impact on the Commodores with a standout freshman season. El Toro hit a single-season program record 22 home runs while batting .329 and driving home 64 RBIs. After the 2006 season, Alvarez was named the SEC and National Freshman of the Year. Alvarez suffered no sophomore slump, being named a finalist for the 2007 Golden Spikes Award after a stellar sophomore campaign. While the award went to teammate David Price, Alvarez hit .368 at the dish with 18 home runs and 68 RBI. He also had a 29-game hit streak and collected 29 multi-hit games on the season.
His junior season, Pedro was sidelined six-weeks with a broken hamate bone in his right-hand. Despite only playing 40 games, he smacked nine home runs and drove home 30 runs while batting .317. After the 2008 season Alvarez was taken as the second overall pick in the draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Alvarez waited till the deadline to sign but penned a contract that gave him a $6 million signing bonus. Pedro ended his career tied for the career record in home runs in Vanderbilt history with 49 dingers.
Matt Wieters - Georgia Institute of Technology - 2005-2007
2005 ACC Rookie of the Year
2005 ACC First Team All-ACC
2006 First Team All-American
2006 Second-Team All-ACC
2006 MVP of the NCAA Atlanta Regional
2007 Finalist for the Johnny Bench Award
2007 First Team All-American
2007 First Team All-ACC
Pretty much player in NCAA Division I baseball who's bio has separate hitting and pitching categories is an absolute stud. Matt Wieters was no exception during his three years at Georgia Tech. Easily one of the most decorated and consistent college players on the list of current Orioles who attended higher education institutions, Wieters' numbers are downright gaudy. I will strongly encourage everyone to take a peek at his Georgia Tech Bio page for a more complete picture of the dominance that Matt put together during his time in Atlanta.
To pull out a couple of highlights that are not mentioned in the list of awards above, His greatest collegiate game might have occurred on Feb. 13, 2007. In that 10 inning game against Kennesaw State, Wieters started the game behind the dish, catching the first eight innings before being called on to close out the game. Matt blew the save, allowing a single run in the ninth to tie the game at 8-8, however in the bottom of the 10th, batting right-handed Wieters sent a one-out, three-run homer over the left-field way to give the Yellow Jackets an 11-8 victory. In the game Wieters went 2-5 with the game-winning three-run homer, he also picked up the victory striking out four batters over his two innings of work.
Wieters' finished his three years in Atlanta with 35 home runs and a .359 batting average in addition to 16 saves on the mound. Somehow he slipped all the way to fifth in the 2007 draft where the Orioles took him to replace Ramon Hernandez as the Birds' backstop.
Brad Brach - Monmouth University - 2005-2008
2006 Second Team Northeast Conference
2006 New Jersey Pitcher of the Year
2007 First Team Northeast Conference and Pitcher of the Year
2007 ABCA All-East Region
2008 First Team Northeast Conference
2008 ABCA All-East Region
A native of Freehold, N.J. Brad Brach went to nearby Monmouth University for his college career. Brach was a four-year starter for the Hawks. Brach finished his career as the record holder in a number of categories in Monmouth history. He holds the record for most innings pitched (324.1), wins (29), and strikeouts (277). In addition to a number of conference and regional awards listed above, Brach was named the state of New Jersey's Pitcher of the Year in both the 2006 and 2007 seasons. After his career wrapped up, Brach was drafted in the 42nd round of the 2008 draft by the San Diego Padres.
Caleb Joseph - Lipscomb University - 2006-2008
2007 First Team Atlantic Sun All-Conference
2008 First Team All-Region
2008 First Team Atlantic Sun All-Conference
The Mayor of Bowie had a solid stay at Lipscomb playing primarily at both secondbase and catcher for the Bisons. He played secondbase during the week and was the backstop during conference games on the weekends. Joseph helped the Bisons to their first ever Atlantic Sun Tournament Championship in his junior season. That season he started all 63 games and led the team in several offensive categories including batting average (.342), slugging percentage (.615), RBIs (61), home runs (17) and total bases (140). His 61 RBIs, 89 hits, and 17 home runs are all single-season records at Lipscomb. After his junior year, CJ was selected in the seventh round by the Orioles as the 206th player selected in the 2008 draft.
Kevin Gausman - Louisiana State University - 2011-2012
2012 First Team All-American
2012 First Team All-SEC
2012 Louisiana Pitcher of the Year
Gausman pitched just two years in Baton Rouge but made an impact for the Tigers. The Goose had moments of brilliance during his freshman campaign including a shutout of Tennesse on May 13, 2011 where he allowed just four hits and struck out seven, but his breakout season came during his sophomore season. In 2012, Gausman pitched to a 12-2 record with a 2.77 ERA. He collected 135 strikeouts in 123.2 innings and allowed batters to hit just .232 against him. He was twice named the SEC Pitcher of the Week, once when he threw a complete game five-hitter against Vanderbilt on May 11th and after an 11-strikeout performance over Michigan on Mar. 12th. The Gasman was taken as the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Orioles.
Darren O'Day - University of Florida - 2003-2006
2004 Second Team All-SEC
2004 CoSIDA Academic All-District
2005 CoSIDA Academic All-District
2006 CoSIDA Academic All-District
2006 Academic All-American
Amongst all of the Orioles that attended college, O'Day had one of the more interesting journeys. As the story goes, O'Day went to the University of Florida on a academic scholarship after graduating from Bishop Kenny High School in 2001. O'Day did not make the Florida squad while he attempted to walk on. After refining his delivery into what we see today, he tried out again prior to the 2003 season and made the team. O'Day later became the Gator's closer, complying a 3.14 ERA over 223.2 innings in 117 appearances. In his junior season, Darren was a part of Florida's first SEC Championship crown in seven years as the Gators finished as the National Runner-Up in 2005.
O'Day ended his career in the top ten in a number of pitched categories for the Gators including appearances (117 - 2nd), saves (20 - 4th), wins (23 - 7th) and ERA (3.14 - 9th). Despite his strong career in Gainsville, O'Day was not selected in the 2008 draft. He was signed as a free agent on May 29, 2006 by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Mike Wright - East Carolina University - 2009-2011
Dennis Michael Wright was a starter for just one season in Greenville. Wright posted a 6-4 record with a 2.79 ERA over 100.0 innings in his junior season - his lone season as a starter. Prior to his senior Season, Wright was a reliever and pitched to a 9-8 career record at ECU with a 4.40 ERA in 53 appearances (22 starts). Prior to his junior season, Wright was ranked as the No. 14 prospect by Perfect Game. He had two wins against nationally ranked teams (No. 10 UVA/Feb. 27, 2011 and No. 22 South Carolina/June 1, 2009) in his career. In his junior season, Wright led Conference USA in strikeouts looking. After the 2011 season, Wright was selected by the Orioles in the third round of the MLB Draf
Vance Worley - California State University Long Beach - 2006-2008
Worley had one of the weaker college careers of any current Orioles that played in college. Worley pitched for three seasons at Long Beach State, pitching to a 12-13 record in 47 appearances (32 starts). Worley pitched a total of 230.2 innings with 145 strikeouts and an ERA 3.98. Worley was one of the primary weekend starters during the 2008 season for the Dirt Bags. After the 2008 season, Worley was drafted by the Phillies in the 3rd round of the draft.
Tyler Wilson - University of Virginia - 2008-2011
2011 Second Team All-ACC
2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Winner
Along with Darren O'Day, Tyler Wilson personified what it meant to be a student-athlete. During his senior season Wilson was named the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award in baseball. The award is given to the best student-athlete in NCAA Division I baseball during the season. Wilson's final season in Charlottesville was his best. He posted a 2.34 ERA in 14 starts and an 8-0 record. In 88.1 innings, Wilson allowed only 62 hits and 21 walks while collecting 111 strikeouts. In his career, Wilson has the third-most career wins in Virginia history (25) and also sits fourth in career appearances (88) and career strikeouts (254). Wilson was drafted after his junior season in the 35th round by the Reds but did not sign. He was drafted again after the 2011 season, when he was selected in the 10th round by the Orioles as the 305th selection.
Matthew Fenton is a Graduate Assistant for Athletics Communications at Messiah College. If you're interested in college athletics, visit GoMessiah.com and GoMessiah.tv. Messiah College, located in Grantham, Pa. is home to the Falcons and to 25 National Titles (16 teams and nine individual). And if you're on Instagram check out @MessiahSports (It's got some pretty good stuff!).
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