Former Florida Gator Matt den Dekker is Called Up to Big Leagues with the New York Mets
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Former Gator outfielder Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) was called up to the Major Leagues by the New York Mets on Tuesday and will be uniform tonight against the Philadelphia Phillies.
He is the fifth player in head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s tenure at Florida to reach professional baseball’s highest level after left-hander Nick Maronde (2009-11) was called up to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last August, left-hander Steven Rodriguez (2010-12) joined the Los Angeles Dodgers last September and catcher Mike Zunino (2010-12) was brought up by the Seattle Mariners this June and left-hander Kevin Chapman (2007, 09-10) came up to the Houston Astros earlier this month.
den Dekker had recently been playing for the Las Vegas 51s of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he batted .296 in 53 games, with 38 RBI, 34 runs, eight doubles, six homers and four triples. Over his last 10 games, the center fielder hit .368 (14-for-38) and had a stretch of four multiple-hit outings in a row from Aug. 19-22.
den Dekker was selected by the Mets in the fifth round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft with the 152nd choice. Regarded as the top defensive outfielder in school history, he was the first Gator chosen to the SEC Defensive Team three-straight campaigns (since joined by shortstop Nolan Fontana). A two-time All-SEC pick (first team in 2008, second team in 2010), he was also named to the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2007. At the time his collegiate career was completed, he was the only Gator to make All-Regional teams on three occasions (2008 Tallahassee Regional, 2009 & 2010 Gainesville Regionals).
On Florida’s career list, den Dekker still ranks fourth in runs scored (220), fifth in both at bats (844) and games started (220), tied for fifth in stolen bases (65), sixth in hit-by-pitches (26), tied for seventh in hits (262), eighth in games played (234), ninth in home runs (33) and tied for ninth in RBI (159) and sacrifice flies (12). He turned in a career batting average of .310 and was at .300 in SEC play.
As a senior in 2010, den Dekker helped the Gators capture the SEC Championship and advance to the NCAA College World Series for the first time since 2005. That season, he earned second-team All-South Region, second-team All-SEC and made the league’s Defensive Team for the third year in a row. den Dekker hit a team-best .352, with a team-high 65 runs and a career-high 49 RBI, and delivered multiple hits in a team-leading 28 games. He had a career-high 13 homers, seven doubles and three tripIes and was 23-for-30 on the basepaths. Against UCLA in Omaha, he turned in one of the most remarkable catches in baseball history with a sprawling grab to start the fourth inning. With his back to the plate, den Dekker sprinted out to the base of the center field wall on a ball hit by the Bruins’ Brett Krill and made a sensational basket catch as he was sliding onto the warning track. The play was ranked No. 1 on SportsCenter’s Top Plays that night.
Besides den Dekker, there are seven other players with UF ties in the Big Leagues: Chapman (Astros), infielder Mark Ellis (Los Angeles Dodgers), right-hander Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles), outfielder Ryan Raburn (Cleveland Indians), Rodriguez (Dodgers), catcher David Ross (Boston Red Sox) and Zunino (Mariners/15-day DL).
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