It’s a dream to play baseball for the University of Florida, this year’s national runners-up. But it’s an even bigger dream to play professional baseball.
On Tuesday, Florida infielder Colby Halter realized that dream when he was drafted by the Oakland Athletics with the 496th pick in the 17th round of the 2023 Major League Baseball Draft.
It didn’t take Halter long to decide whether to sign professionally or return to the Gators, although it was certainly a tough decision.
There were good arguments for both sides, including returning one more year with a chance to get back to Omaha in 2024, or seize this rare opportunity to take that next step.
Halter was slated to be a potential draft pick during the 2020 MLB Draft, but he opted to skip the draft and join Florida instead.
On Wednesday, Halter reflected on his time and the memories of being a Gator.
The junior humbly thanked Gator Nation on social media via Twitter for the opportunity to live out his dream. He also noted how much he’s grown during his time at UF.
“Dear Gator Nation,
The last three years of wearing the Orange & Blue have been the best years of my life. I dreamed my childhood of playing baseball for the University of Florida and getting to live out that dream is something I do not take for granted. Through the great times, and in rough times, the support from our staff, my teammates, and the fans has been unwavering. Coming back for this last season and getting to be a part of this team is one of the best decisions of my life. I get very emotional thinking about the man I have become since arriving in Gainesville my freshman year and I am tremendously proud when I look back on my time here. I will be a Gator for life. Thank you for everything.”
This last season, Halter helped lead the Gators to a national runner-up finish and a program record 54 wins. He started 54 of 59 games, batted .247 with 43 hits and 30 RBI, and he only committed seven errors to finish with a .948 fielding percentage.
As you can imagine, some fans were disappointed but also happy for Halter by telling him to “go live your dream to the fullest,” as one fan on Facebook wrote, knowing an opportunity to play professionally now awaits the Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) alum.
Halter played in 173 games for the Gators during his three seasons. He made 163 starts and had a hitting line of .259/.354/.405. The UF third baseman, who also played second base, piled up 14 homers, 31 doubles, 104 runs, 89 RBI and 17 steals over the course of his career.
He finished with a .950 career fielding percentage, having never committed more than 11 errors in a single campaign.
Halter was one of six Gators to be drafted during the 3-day event.
Wyatt Langford was selected fourth overall by the Texas Rangers, while right-handed pitcher Hurston Waldrep was also selected in the first round (24th to Atlanta), followed by righty Brandon Sproat, who was selected in the second round by the New York Mets (56th overall).
Four-year Florida infielder Josh Rivera was drafted by the Chicago Cubs with the 81st overall pick in the third round on Monday, while left-handed pitcher Philip Abner, who had never previously been drafted, was chosen by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 175th pick of the sixth round.