By Nicholas Poblete/Asst Sports Director – Lisell Waterman/Staff Writer
Many FIU baseball alumni have gone on to play at the highest level, in a particular case, winning the World Series, creating a pipeline for current and future players aspiring to follow their footsteps.
“They had a great opportunity to play professional baseball and experience different teammates and cities,” said FIU Head Coach Mervyl Melendez. “It should be an honor for them, it’s an honor for us. Something that we hope continues here.”
Among the alumni making it to the big leagues was Mike Lowell. Lowell won the World Series back in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. The Marlins defeated the New York Yankees four games to two.
Lowell left the Marlins in 2005 to play for the Boston Red Sox’s. The former Panther won his second World Series in 2007 playing for the Red Sox’s.
The Puerto Rico native, who wore the number 15 jersey during his time at FIU, was named All-Conference player on three occasions. In commemoration, Lowell’s jersey number was retired.
The success of Lowell and other FIU alumni have paved the way for current, and future players, to aspire to make it to Major League Baseball.
Logan Allen, freshman pitcher and first baseman, was chosen by D1Baseball.com as the Preseason C-USA Freshman of the Year.
“This bar has been set for us to surpass, so we can be more successful than them,” said the freshman left-hander and first baseman. “Making it a habit of us trying to be better than the people before us so FIU can be talked more about.”
FIU had six baseball players selected during the 2017 MLB draft, the highest number in Conference USA last season. 1993 was the only other time the school had that many players drafted. was the second time FIU had six players chosen.
JC Escarra was the Panthers highest pick, chosen in the 15th round. The Miami native went on to play for the Baltimore Orioles.
Zack Soria and Dominic LoBrutto were picked in the 18th round by the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox, respectively. Irving Lopez was chosen in the 19th round by the St. Louis Cardinals. The San Francisco Giants chose Franklin Van Gurp in the 25th round. Michael Agis, the final Panther drafted, was picked by the Colorado Rockies in the 36th round.
“The players have worked extremely hard to play professional baseball,” said Melendez following the 2017 draft. “The relationships we have built with professional scouting community are very strong. That’s a good combination for our players to have the chance to play professional baseball.”
FIU’s baseball season begins Feb. 16, as the Panthers host the Missouri Tigers in a three-game series.